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UPDATE: LEGO Universe Purchased By LEGO Group

by Phil Kollar on Feb 24, 2011 at 12:35 PM

UPDATE 2: GI received an official update on the situation surrounding LEGO Universe from Gazillion Entertainment PR manager Keith Mutzman. According to Mutzman, less than a quarter of the LEGO Universe development team was laid off, and the positions let go were normal positions to cut in the process of shifting from a pre-development project to a live MMO. NetDevil is now focused Fortune Online, a free-to-play action-RPG that has over 40 people on its development team.

UPDATE 1: Joystiq is reporting that LEGO Group has acquired the rights to continue fully operating LEGO Universe. The LEGO manufacturer has also picked up a majority of the staff that worked on developing the game. According to publisher Gazillion, Netdevil suffered only a "minor staff reduction," with most of the team moving over to LEGO Group.

ORIGINAL STORY: I rather enjoyed the unique platforming MMO LEGO Universe when it launched late last year, but either the game hasn't picked up steam or it just hasn't been enough to keep developer NetDevil running at full capacity. Word is spreading that the studio has undergone extensive layoffs.

According to a blog post from NetDevil animator Toby Cochran, numerous employees from the company were let go yesterday just a week after being told their jobs were safe. Cochran himself was affected by the layoffs but was not in the office at the time that they happened, leading to some confusion about exactly how many people have been let go:

"From what we've been told a handful of artists will be kept on board and continue working on Lego Universe. But at the moment that will be a very, VERY small team. As the count continues to rise on [Facebook], they've cut over 20 people."

According to NetDevil's website, the developer has around 100 employees, so a layoff of 20 or more would be a pretty large chunk of its staff. It sounds like they'll continue working on LEGO Universe, but it's unclear what the future holds for their long-in-development sci-fi MMO, Jumpgate: Evolution.

I've reached out to NetDevil to confirm the layoffs and gather any information it's willing to provide on the future of its games, and I'll update this story if/when I hear back.

[via Eurogamer]