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Vivendi Games Lays Off 350, To Close Sierra Offices 65

An anonymous reader writes "Vivendi Universal Games has laid off 350 people and closed its Bellevue, Wa. office (formerly Sierra), according to a report on CNN/Money. In addition to the shuttering of Sierra, say goodbye to the Hoyle card games, which may not have been popular with hardcore gamers, but were beloved by mothers and other casual players." The article also notes: "The job cuts follow the May shutdown of a pair of longtime [Vivendi-owned] development studios... Papyrus Studios (makers of the company's 'NASCAR' games for years) and Impressions Games (makers of strategy titles, such as 'Zeus', 'Cleopatra' and 'Lords of the Realm III'.)", However: "Blizzard Entertainment, VU Games' top earning developer, was not affected by the restructuring."
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Vivendi Games Lays Off 350, To Close Sierra Offices

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  • by NaDrew ( 561847 ) <> on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:45PM (#9491206) Journal
    Here's an interesting coda to this story from Former chief of Vivendi in French custody []
    Jean-Marie Messier, the former chief of Vivendi Universal, the French telecommunication and media conglomerate, was questioned by authorities on Monday and then held in custody overnight by the French financial police as part of an investigation into stock price manipulation.
    Messier, who appeared for questioning early Monday morning, can be held for up to 48 hours before prosecutors decide whether to place him under formal investigation, the last step before being charged. Messier had requested that he be placed under investigation in March to be granted access to the evidence against him and others in the case, his lawyer said.
    Also, this source [] for the layoff story says that 110 jobs were cut from Sierra, while 180 were lost in the Los Angeles area. Those were almost certainly from the Davidson/Knowledge Adventure group.
  • Boston Studios (Score:5, Informative)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:28PM (#9491556) Homepage
    Papyrus Studios and Impressions Games are both Boston-area studios... While their closures come amidst the opening (at least publically) of Tilted Mill and Turbine's major expansion push, you just can't help but feel that this developer's region is again being pinched out by the larger west-coast developers. When Looking Glass closed, it was a blow felt across the region, one that was delt not because Looking Glass was unworthy, but because the publisher felt the region was unworthy. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as every team out here benefits in some way or another from a lot of experienced Looking Glass people, but why was that studio closed? Why did one of the most successful game developers get canned? Why did no white knight show up?

    This isn't such a clear-cut case of the expendability of your north-west studios. Papayrus has been frozen with Nascar for years, and losing that license meant losing their company. Impression games was stuck too, stuck making Caeser and other historical strategy games in a saturated market. I don't think the closure of either of these studios comes as a surprise to anybody. But one can't shake the feeling that we're in for another round of publisher abuse, looking at their North East studios as if they were expendable, despite having produced Asheron's Call, Karaoke Revolution, System Shock II, Empire Earth, Neverwinter Nights, Thief 1 and 2, The great Mind Rover [], etc, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:31PM (#9491581)
    D3 probably far off if it will happen at all.

    All the original Diablo guys bailed out from Blizzard like a year ago. Check out Guild Wars. It's like Diablo, minus the suck! (And no monthly fee)
  • Sierra (Score:2, Informative)

    by Nasarius ( 593729 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @02:10AM (#9492408)
    It's sad to see such an icon go, but it has been a while since Sierra released anything really good. I think they peaked about ten years ago, with Quest for Glory 4 and King's Quest 6. It was all downhill from there.

    Still, I doubt many young gamers realize the influence that Sierra had on the industry. These are the people who developed the very first graphical adventures when everyone else was just using text. They might have been one of the first to use motion capture to animate a game (King's Quest 5). They were innovative, and they created what are certainly some of the best computer games ever made. I realize the lack of flashy 3D graphics is a turn-off these days, but I played through the QFG series again about a year ago and loved it. No one else has done anything that rivals QFG and KQ5+6. The adventure genre has simply been dead for ten years.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama