Mobile gaming outfit Ngmoco has swung the ax on Freeverse, the Mac and iOS game development studio it acquired back in February 2010. Today Ngmoco, which is now owned by Japanese mobile gaming giant DeNA, laid off the bulk of Freeverse’s staff, possibly as part of a move to close the studio — a move that one tipster tells us staffers at the 18-year-old Freeverse “did not see coming.” The layoffs come just one week after the departures of Freeverse’s co-founders, brothers Ian and Colin Lynch Smith.
When contacted for comment, an Ngmoco rep sent the following statement attributed to VP of Studios Clive Downey:
“Today we have organized Freeverse into a focused team, building on a foundation of talent from the studio in NY. Unfortunately this means we have had to say goodbye to some people. We thank everyone who has contributed to DeNA and Freeverse over the years and wish those moving on the very best.
Freeverse founders Ian and Colin Smith are taking a well deserved break, after building their company, helming the studio through years of success, many game launches, and the acquisition by ngmoco.
The new studio leadership will come from within, led by respected vet Nathan Camarillo.”
One source tells TechCrunch that today’s layoffs may have affected some 20 people, though the Ngmoco rep has not yet confirmed the exact number of jobs cut. Although layoffs are always a bummer, in this frothy environment there is a silver lining, as TouchArcade’s Eli Hodapp has pointed out: “The up side, if there was one to this terrible situation, is that if you’re an iOS developer in the New York area looking to scoop up some fantastic and entirely squandered talent: Now is your chance to hire some really great people.” Former Freeverse-er Bruce Morrison put it like this:
If your looking for good people to hire in NYC. The best fucking dev team of all time just became available.—
Bruce Morrison (@hippiemanx) August 30, 2012
This is not the first round of layoffs at Ngmoco since it was acquired by DeNA in October 2010. In February, TechCrunch’s Eric Eldon reported that Ngmoco had laid off some 30 people just before DeNA posted a positive quarterly earnings report.
ngmoco (“Next Generation MObile COmpany”) is creating and producing games for the iPhone. CEO Neil Young is a former executive from Electronic Arts, where he oversaw the development of several hit titles. Another EA vet and partner at Kleiner Perkins, Bing Gordon, sits on the board. Kleiner is an investor through its iFund.
Freeverse is a developer and publisher of game and application software for Mac, iPhone and other platforms. One of the few Mac-specialist game dev studios, Freeverse titles have been OEM bundled by Apple. Via its publishing arm, Freeverse titles can be found on shelves at the Apple Stores and other Mac software retailers worldwide. While Freeverse has shipped titles for PC and Xbox Live Arcade, the majority of current development is focused on games and applications for the iPhone and iPod...