Visual Concepts Lays Off 20% of Staff

Posted August 16th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

News has hit today that 30+ employees have been laid off from the Visual Concepts¬† (2K Sports) studio. VC currently develops the NBA 2K, MLB 2K, and NHL 2K franchises. Cutting 30 employees is a very significant number for a studio that isn’t all that big to begin with (recently was estimated to have 150 in total). Over the years the studio has also been responsible for series including NFL 2K/All-Pro Football 2K8 and College Hoops 2K.

This is purely speculation on my part, but based on the timing it would appear most likely that the cuts (or a significant portion) may have come from the NHL 2K series signaling that it will be completely finished. This year the company cut back to release only a Wii version and at the time weren’t facing competition on the console. Now EA Sports has introduced their own hockey game on the Wii (NHL Slapshot) which will potentially cut into sales significantly compared to running unopposed. The outlook for continuing the series has always been bleak but that may have sealed it.

There is also the possibility that some cuts have come from MLB 2K, given that the series has been a huge drain on the studio and parent company Take Two. MLB 2K10 was estimated to have lost $35-40 million on its own. It is less likely that the cuts will be from NBA 2K, which is the franchise that almost single-handedly has kept the studio alive and relevant in today’s marketplace.

Update: Some significant cuts to the NHL 2K team have been confirmed. While it doesn’t necessarily mean the series is done for good it definitely indicates a strong likelihood of that being the case.