‘CIV’ studio lays off 20

Firaxis is developer of forthcoming 'Civilization'

Firaxis Studios, the home of video game legend Sid Meier and the developer of the forthcoming title “Civilization V,” is the latest game maker to face significant staff cuts.

The studio on Wednesday laid off 20 developers as part of what parent company Take Two Interactive Software calls a “realignment of development resources at the studio.”

That works out to roughly 15 percent of the employee base at Firaxis, if recent staffing estimates are correct. Take Two says the layoffs will not affect ongoing development of “Civ V” or an upcoming “Civ” social media game that is slated to appear on Facebook.

“Firaxis has realigned its development resources in order to streamline its development process, reduce costs and maximize the overall performance of the studio,” said Take Two in a statement.

The move came just one day after Firaxis won “Best Strategy Game” from the Game Critics Awards for the upcoming “Civ V,” the most prestigious award given at E3, the video game industry’s annual trade show. The game won several other awards from individual outlets and has received universal acclaim in previews as well.

Layoffs after a title ships are fairly common in the gaming world, but layoffs of this magnitude before it is completed are rare — and somewhat baffling.

Meier was not affected by the layoffs and will remain with the company. “Civ V” is still scheduled for release on Sept. 21. Alan Lewis, vice president of corporate communications and public affairs for Take Two, said the Facebook “Civ” game is on track for an open beta “later this year.”

That’s a change from the company’s original plan, though. Earlier this year, a company spokesperson said the open beta was planned to launch in June — but the month came and went without a whisper about the game.

Take Two purchased Firaxis in late 2005. The studio (and Meier, who has been hailed as the father of computer gaming) is responsible for some of the most universally loved titles in the industry – including the “Civ” series, the “Sid Meier’s Pirates!” franchise and “Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri,” which is generally viewed as one of the top strategy games ever created.

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