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Turbine adds to growing list of jobless game developers in Boston
Turbine adds to growing list of jobless game developers in Boston
October 25, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi

It's a good time to be a game development recruiter in Boston.

An unsubstantiated amount of layoffs and studio closures have created a sudden rush of available talent in the area in recent weeks. First there was news that Foundation 9's kid-focused studio ImaginEngine closed shop earlier this month, laying off somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 employees.

Then, just two days ago, Zynga shut down its Boston studio, which we're told employed somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 people.

Now, we've confirmed that two more Boston-area studios, Turbine and Harmonix, have had to let people go.

We're not sure just how many people were made redundant at Lord of the Rings Online developer Turbine, with a spokesperson for owner Warner Bros. simply telling us that "As part of the continual review of our business operations and fluctuating market conditions, we have had to make reductions in our Turbine workforce."

Harmonix, however, was more straightforward with us: we're told that there were less than ten employees let go from the studio as part of what its calling a normal cyclical development cycle for a studio with projects of its size -- you know, the "layoff culture" that Double Fine's Tim Schafer spoke out against just days ago.

Harmonix is also quick to point out that it is hiring -- the Gamasutra Jobs Board currently has nine openings listed for the company, in fact.

Regardless, it's been a rough couple of weeks for the Boston game development scene, though opportunities still abound in the area. Hang in there, Boston!

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Elisabeth Beinke-Schwartz
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Irrational Games (Boston area) is still hiring!

Freek Hoekstra
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Harmonix is still hiring thus it seems more like trimming the excess fat to make space for some new muscle and talent rather then actually shrinking the studio. then again I could be completely wrong....

TC Weidner
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new american business mantra. Have two employees?? Well fire one and give the other one his old job as well. Leaves you with one scared employee doing the jobs of two. Aint america grand.

Gary LaRochelle
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Ah, I think you have that backwards. You have one very experienced employee. You fire that employee and hire two unexperienced employees at half the wages of the experienced employee.

Chuck Bartholomew
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@Gary you mean hire two at less than half the experienced person's salary. That way it cuts costs so investors are happy.

Joe Morton
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Yes. Because companies don't run on the idea of profit margin and making a product. They run on evil. You must have a four-year degree.

Michael O'Hair
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Out with the old, in with the new.
Fire the experienced personnel with the high salaries and endless complaints, then hire a few new recruits straight out of college willing to work longer hours for less pay who don't know any better. There are always new graduates willing to prove their chops, and the old stalwarts are looking for greener pastures (probably in lower-stress, higher-income technical fields).
As unfortunate as it may seem, it's a win-win situation.

Martin Sabom
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Welcome to ownership. Don't forget to pay your payroll taxes, your federal taxes and your state taxes....oh and your sales tax and...aint 'merica grand.

Ben Hopper
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WB is the new EA.

Mikhail Mukin
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w/o knowing what people were let go, it is hard to tell if it is indication of a problem or a normal "cycle". You will probably need your graphics and network engineers "always", but what about all the QA guys, and concept artists and not senior designers etc... There is almost no way to keep everybody occupied all the time when industry is project based... And there is no easy way to re-train one to be another. So for the health of the whole company, some adjustments are almost required :(

Of cause, in ideal world projects would be lined up so that people can be moved (like QA dept "following" the projects closer to release) but the timelines that go for 1-3 years are rarely kept intact... projects get delayed, changed - and the whole "conveyer" breaks... Pandemic tried to do those "roll overs" between 4 internal teams in LA - it was hard...

With Harmonix especially... having focused on music games (the type that does not really require the most advanced tech)... what if they want to make a non music game? They will need to hire a bunch of guys who can work/make with high performance tech and probably do not need a lot of guys who can put those music buttons on the lines and license tons of music etc... Of cause, just speculations...

Making games is a busyness first. Yes, if you have a person and you can hire a different person at "half cost" who would do the same job... You sort of even "should" - you have responsibility to your shareholders to run the busyness efficiently... As sad as it is...