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HIVE EXCLUSIVE: Sierra Restructures, Closes Dynamix and Lays Off 200

17 Aug, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

Sierra On-Line, a studio of Vivendi Universal Publishing, has reorganized to focus on product development and brand management and more closely mirror the operating structures of other VU Publishing studios Blizzard Entertainment and Universal Interactive Studios.

"This reorganization creates a more efficient operating model," said Sierra president Michael Ryder. "It also allows Sierra to focus on what we do best -- creating and growing some of the most successful and enduring brandsin the business."

As part of this reorganization, Sierra will close its Dynamix development studio in Eugene, Ore, creators of Tribes, and lay off 97 positions. Tribes, which is being developed for next-generation consoles and PC, will be moved to Sierra’s Bellevue, Wash. headquarters.

A total of 148 positions will be eliminated in Sierra’s Bellevue headquarters.Approximately 20 positions will be transferred to VUP’s Los Angeles headquarters. These layoffs come from non-developmental consolidation and corporate restructuring within VUP and the closure of all of Sierra’s Home Division’s cooking, gardening, geneology and publishing titles. Sierra Home will focus solely on its best-selling Print Artist franchises, which will be managed out of Los Angeles.

"While any reorganization involving staff reductions is difficult, there is no doubt that this is the right thing to do for the business," said Sierra president Michael Ryder. "We are now in a strong position to forge aheadwith our new and established franchises."

The Bellevue studio will remain central to the new organization, and will, in addition to Tribes, be responsible for the best-selling SWAT and Hoyle franchises.

Concord, Mass.-based Papyrus, which has a strong heritage in the development of racing games, will continue as a key studio, maintaining responsibility for the NASCAR franchise. Cambridge, Mass.-based Impressions, will remain a key development studio, responsible for a number of pre-eminent titles including the Ancient City Building series and Lords of the Realm.

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