California-based social game developer RockYou will lay off 100 employees. Around 40 employees will be going with Playdemic, the firm RockYou acquired in January of this year. The company will sell the studio back to its founders. Around 56 employees will be downsized from RockYou’s Redwood City headquarters, leaving around 90 employees at the company. The cuts and staff moves equate to a 50 percent overall reduction of staff.
“We went too far down the creative path and lost our way in terms of being a profitable organization,” RockYou CEO Lisa Marino told TechCrunch. “While today is a tough day, I am incredibly bullish on the business going forward.”
RockYou will also be terminating its deal with John Romero's Loot Drop, according to IndustryGamers. Romero's studio is developing the game Cloudforest Expedition.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the last 12 months,” Marino told InsideSocialGames. “We built up a central studio that looks a lot like EA or Zynga with 45 heads in it when we really only needed 10 or 12. We developed two large-scale sim games — Social Life and Cloudforest Expedition — and Social Life was [canceled] in May and Cloudforest is in the process of being kicked back to Loot Drop. [Playdemic’s] Gourmet Ranch is profitable, but [the developer] is not building the core content that we want.”
“We don’t need 200 people to be a success. We got away from running RockYou as a business and we relied very heavily on the creative side of the house. What we learned this year was that was a bad strategy,” she continued.
“Cloudforest is a perfect example. We spent an awful lot developing that game and ultimately — as a power user — I couldn’t figure out how to spend more than $10 in it. It’s a beautiful frickin’ game, but it doesn’t monetize. If we can’t have a game that’s both really good and profitable, that doesn’t count as a good game to RockYou.”
Marino also believes that the company miss-stepped when it tried to add a new ad platform in its popular Zoo World social game. The company says that it has "repaired the damage," but daily active users for RockYou have declined from a high of 1.6 million in August of this year to right around 640,000.