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Starhawk developer LightBox Interactive hit with layoffs, moving from console development to iOS

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

LightBox Interactive, the Austin-based developer behind PlayStation 3 game Starhawk, laid off 24 of its employees this week, studio founder and president Dylan Jobe tells Polygon. The layoffs are part of a "shift in product strategy" at LightBox, Jobe says, which includes a move away from traditional console game development.

Jobe says he's not shutting down LightBox Interactive. Instead, the company will self-fund a "small, focused indie-style team" to bring the developer's next game to iOS, not the PlayStation 3.

"All of the guys at Santa Monica Studio and Sony Computer Entertainment are fantastic people and great to work with," Jobe said in an email. "We have had and will continue to have a great relationship with everyone over there. Hell, the PlayStation is why I got into games in the first-place!"

"But now, we're just that we're taking LightBox Interactive in a new direction."

Jobe says that each of the 24 LightBox employees affected by layoffs has been given a severance package.

Rumors of trouble at LightBox spread when George Broussard of 3D Realms — frequently a bearer of bad video game industry news — tweeted on Wednesday, "Good luck to my buddies at LightBox in Austin. Layoffs and rumors of near whole studio gone by Friday."

LightBox Interactive was formed in 2009 by studio president Dylan Jobe and former members of Incognito Entertainment, the talent behind Twisted Metal: Black, War of the Monsters, and the 2007 release Warhawk. LightBox had established a multi-year, multi-title partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment America at the time to create games for PlayStation platforms.

The company released just one title under that agreement, Starhawk for the PlayStation 3, in early 2012.

When contacted for comment, Sony Computer Entertainment America reps provided Polygon with the following statement:

Sony Computer Entertainment can confirm that it has amicably ended its working agreement with developer LightBox Interactive, Inc. We have had a positive and long-standing working relationship with this talented studio, and wish them the best of success in their next endeavor. Starhawk and Warhawk will continue to be supported by Santa Monica Studio.

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