Frontier Developments, the studio behind Elite: Dangerous and Xbox 360 game Kinectimals, has laid off 15 workers from its 281-strong workforce, it’s been announced.
The redundacies come at the developer’s Cambridge Headquarters, and are said to mark “the next stage in Frontier’s transition towards increasing its proportion of self-published revenue.”
The announcement came alongside the news that the developer is now working on a second self-published title, following on from the launch of Elite: Dangerous last month. The new game is titled Coaster Park Tycoon, and will be a theme-park management sim in the same vein as studio head David Braben’s previous creation, Rollercoaster Tycoon. Why the change in name? Well, Braben doesn’t hold the rights to the Rollercoaster Tycoon series – they reside with Atari.
Alongside the redundancies – said to consist of “content creation” staff – Frontier has said that it is also moving roles from its Canadian studio back to the United Kingdom. The Canadian branch was only opened back in August 2012. This effectively signals the closure of the Canadian wing of the company, and it remains to be seen how many staff will relocate from Canada to the UK, or how many will be impacted by the change.
All of this comes as the studio re-organizes its workforce to support current and future titles. As well as Elite: Dangerous receiving ongoing content development and Coaster Park Tycoon, the developer is also currently working on Xbox-exclusive Screamride – another Rollercoaster-themed game, but one with vastly different gameplay. In Screamride, players not only create their own rollercoasters, but also need to ride them and destroy certain environmental objects. Coasters are completely destructible, meaning that derailments are common. You’ll also need to solve “construction puzzles”, and on Xbox One you’ll be able to share your creations over Xbox Live.
Speaking about Coaster Park Tycoon, Frontier’s chief creative officer Jonny Watts had the following to say: “Coaster Park games appeal to a great many people, as proven by RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. It is a field for which Frontier has unparalleled expertise and immense passion, and one to which we have long wanted to make a ‘no-holds-barred’ return.”
“We want Coaster Park Tycoon to be another major step forward for the simulation genre, and sit alongside Elite: Dangerous as a second major self-published franchise,” he added.
It’s never good to hear when people lose their jobs. Unfortunately, it’s an accepted part of the Game Industry, with publishers and developers typically shedding staff and re-organizing following the release of a major game, only to bulk up their numbers again following the announcement of new projects. Our thoughts go out to all those affected, and we hope that they find new roles soon.
Coaster Park Tycoon is currently expected to release on PC in 2016. We’re still working on our review of Elite: Dangerous; we hope to have that with you soon. It’s a big game – so big that it’s taking 2 of us to review it thoroughly.