Starhawk Developer Lightbox Lays Off 24 Staff, Drops PS3 For iPhone

It's time for another drink.
[drop2]Austin based LightBox Interactive, the developers behind Starhawk, have laid off 24 staff and switched from PS3 exclusive to iPhone development in the process.

Studio president Dylan Jobe said it was a “shift in product strategy”, with poor sales of the PS3 exclusive Starhawk presumably at the centre of the reasoning. Lightbox won’t be shuttered, instead, the remaining staff – a “small, focused indie-style team” – will make games for iOS.

“All of the guys at Santa Monica Studio and Sony Computer Entertainment are fantastic people and great to work with,” Jobe said.

“We have had and will continue to have a great relationship with everyone over there. Hell, the PlayStation is why I got into games in the first-place! But now, we’re just that we’re taking LightBox Interactive in a new direction.”

Starhawk faced a brutal beta process, in which players complained about unbalanced play, and a lack of effective marketing from Sony on the game’s release. On the European PSN Store at least, even finding the game was a problem.

Lightbox had a multi-year, multi-game deal with Sony but broke that after Starhawk’s outing. A spokesperson for Sony said the split was “amicably ended” and that the two studios have had a “positive and long-standing working relationship”.

Sony Santa Monica will continue to support Starhawk. We wish all those affected by the cuts the very best of luck finding new employment.

Via NeoGAF.

19 Comments

  1. Sony screwed up with their “zero marketing”-strategy, and now the developer and it’s staff is the one to pay. I wish the affected the best of luck. It’s always a shame to see talented devs move to social media and mobile platforms, and this is no different. Starhawk was/ still is brilliant.

  2. Wow. Depressing

  3. Could say loads about Sony but an ex-employee of theirs said it best “Sony are sending titles out to die”.

    Good luck to the those who were laid off & of course good luck to those that remain.

    Starhawk deserved better.

    • That’s the really sad bit. These are good, solid titles that could sell far more than the well-peddled shit we see sometimes (that goes on to sell very well).

      Sony… shame on you.

    • imo gamers let these games die half never even buy on release day unless it is a well known big name, most no the games are coming weather you put it on TV or not. we always blame publishers or someone when it falls flat.

      • Glad someone’s talking sense. Yes marketing and publicising games is important, but far too many people in the industry and general gamers complain when companies fold when they never bought their games.

      • What percentage of a game’s sales happen in the first week? It’s something disproportionately huge. Is that the same case for digitally delivered titles? I’m assuming it’s not far off. With that in mind, they truly have to be told about them. Saying things like “most know” simply cannot be true. Most of us here know as we’re clued up as hell with the likes of TSA, One Hit Pixel (Dav’s site), etc. However, the average gamer needs to see advertising in the press. They’re the ones who might not catch TSA every day so a month’s worth of advertising really pays off when it catches most people’s attention for a few seconds as oppose to them missing an article that’s off the front page within 24-48 hours.

        A few recent examples are so very apparent to me. A couple of mates (who’ve enjoyed all Playstations over the years) both independently said “ooo… no… what’s that about?” when I asked them about Journey and Starhawk. They don’t visit the PSN Store with any sort of frequency and have no reason to unless they’re informed otherwise.

        I’m currently working on a client who has a fairly decent marketing strategy. However, they’ve put their full weight behind it (and then some) and it’s proving extremely popular. I see this again and again and again. Seriously… companies can still still very average things if they big them up enough. Starhawk had good reviews. Journey has great reviews but there’s still more room for sales (although I appreciate the latter has been so stellar that its momentum was high anyway).

        Talking of momentum, it’s important for multiplayer games, like Starhawk, to get that momentum from the off so it carries it forward for as long as possible. Then, as people join months down the line, they unwittingly replace the people who’ve played the game to death and are now moving onto greener pastures in the gaming world.

  4. Such a shame as it could have been a great game. It still has its problems too, recently went on to see what the new “free” dlc was about, and I could just about find a game that was near to full. Might as well bin the game as no one plays it.

    Unfortunately, Sony need to make cut backs so this was likely, along with other teams.

    • I’ve been playing it recently with no problem finding populated servers.

  5. Poor show Sony, it could cause ripples amongst other developers and lead to diminished trust or faith in support for the brand. As mentioned on twitter yesterday (chri5_c & teflon) the Xbox has had little in the way of top drawer games this year, but their investment in marketing is keeping them ahead!
    If Sony start putting their weight behind marketing their big games then they can steal the show! Sadly it is most likely Sony are putting funds into R&R for a Vita “slim / 2000” whilst Microsoft advertise the shiz out of Halo 4 and Horizon.

    Silver lining; great iOS games and those laid off find positions in much more rewarding places not afraid to back a developers hard work!

  6. Well maybe if you had marketed it Sony, it would have meet it’s target! You can’t expect a indie studio to be able to release a game that will sell well if no-one is aware of it’s existence.

    What is it with publishers not bothering with marketing with certain games?

  7. Man, it’s getting harder and harder to be a Sony fan. Between SCEE’s well-documented screw-ups and ‘sending titles out to die’ like this…

    They better be saving the marketing budget for Battle Royale, if they don’t plug the sh*t out of the coming together of several of their IPs, then it’ll be confirmation that they’ve got their priorities all wrong.

    • Just for clarification it was SCEA “sending title out to die”.

      • Never mind the balls-up of pre-launch distribution which saw every single website have a different release date for it until a couple of days before it actually launched, presumably through a total lack of communication with the channel from the European distributor (SCEE).

        Following that up with a marketing campaign by the European publisher (SCEE) which saw errrm… the sum total of a post or two on the EU blog.

        Then for it’s digital ‘relaunch’ SCEE couldn’t even upload the data, it’s images & fix broken links, obviously mistakes happen but that situation rolled on not just for a week, but for four.

        So for further clarification SCEA may be “sending titles out to die” but that’s a few steps up the ladder from what SCEE do.

  8. I wonder what Studio is going next, Lifhtbox should have done black ops vita & resistance they know more than nStigate studio. Insomniac realised Sony is not the company to sign exclusives for stick to multi plats that’s the smart move

    And worse of they going exclusive to the IOS meaning they don’t want work with Sony anymore, they could have done some vita titles ah well good luck to them.

    • That’s just it. Sony aren’t pushing the games much on either platform so iOS seems the better option. Hopefully Lightbox can find financial success there.

  9. Huge shame for all involved but the bottom line is that I can’t even afford the games I want, let alone stuff I’m only vaguely interested in.

  10. Advertising would have made no difference as far as I’m concerned. I grew to despise Warhawk, and so never had any interest in Starhawk from the beginning.

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