Black Friday: Disney to close UK studio

Black Friday: Disney to close UK studio
Michael French

By Michael French

July 1st 2011 at 9:42AM

Brighton-based Black Rock will make 40 staff redundant

Disney is closing its UK games development studio the publisher has confirmed to Develop this morning.

Black Rock, the racing studio it bought from Climax in late 2006, will close after five years of Disney ownership.

40 remaining staff will be made redundant - the studio had already laid off a number of staff earlier this year, Eurogamer reports.

A statement reads: “Disney Interactive Studios confirms that Black Rock Studios’ current project has not been greenlit for further development, consequently the company informed employees yesterday of the intent to enter a consultation process on the proposal to close the studios.”

Disney's move into the UK games development space was much hyped and well funded. The publisher was convinced the studio would help it build an audience in the racing genre, which has real core and casual gamer appeal.

Under Disney, the studio released two 360/PS3 games - Pure and Split/Second. Neither were blockbuster hits Disney was probably expecting in the racing space, despite good intentions to introduce new IPs that nevertheless reviewed well.

We reported last week that the remaining staff were clearly eyeing new social and mobile platforms, with job ads seeking Unity-proficient staff for a free-to-play game.

But presumably the transition wasn't quick enough, and Disney has decided to cut its loses.

It's not the first large publisher to withdraw from UK games development: in the last year Bizarre Creations (Activison) and THQ Digital Warrington (THQ) have also closed.