The App Store is a particularly unforgiving environment for developers, regardless of size, stature or the smash hit titles they may have under their belt. Considering it was only two weeks ago that I reported Halfbrick Studios were looking for beta testers for their latest App Store effort Raskulls Online, it's sad to see the title's future already seemingly in jeopardy. According to CNET, this week Halfbrick made up to 30 staff members redundant as they transition to focus purely on its stratospherically successful Fruit Ninja [Free] and Jetpack Joyride [Free] IPs. Sources suggested that fewer than 30 employees still reside at Halfbrick's Brisbane office, which is dramatic contrast from the peak of the developer's popularity that resulted in 100 global workers in multiple offices, including Sydney and Spain.

It's kind of hard to be too concerned about what the future of Raskulls Online may look like when people's livelihoods are quite literally on the line here, and I sure don't want to get into any pointless speculation at this stage. Whatever your opinion of Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride or Halfbrick's subsequent releases, the Australian developer played a significant part in the growing popularity of the App Store in its early days, and it's sad to see that even such a big name can be susceptible to the volatile App Store climate. Hopefully all past and present Halfbrick employees do not suffer too long in finding a place for their mercurial talents - with all luck, we may see a resurgence of their famous IPs on the App Store soon enough.

[via CNET]

  • Saveria

    Good luck to the employees let go. I wonder what doubling down on their two most successful ips will translate into. Sequels? Maybe a shift away from f2p since that seems to have failed them?

    • Adams Immersive

      I hope it doesn't mean doubling down on F2P!

      • JasonLL

        I also hate suffocating f2p games and those games usually get deleted after a short bit. Unfortunately there’s no easy answer. I would never want to be the one to recommend a developer to go premium and then watch as they fail spectacularly with little chance of success. Success on The App Store is lightning in a bottle even for amazing developers like Halfbrick. It’s all about luck, momentum, and who decides to play your game.

        I recently just bought Dan The Man and was amazed at how gorgeous, fluid, and put together the game was. I couldn’t help but think that this would have been a top of the line full priced title for a game boy advanced or Nintendo DS in another lifetime.

    • JasonLL

      Generous f2p may have been more of the culprit. Most of their f2p games are “donation-ware” in which spending is entirely optional and more of a “thanks for making a great game.” Thanks for most gamers means “thanks for the free game I have no intention of ever spending money on.” Most Halfbrick games are easily worth $15 to $20 upfront but that’s not realistic in the current environment for a casual audience (which the games are aimed towards.)

  • Adams Immersive

    That's a shame. But I'm glad to see Jetpack Joyride still going! (And have enjoyed the VR version of Fruit Ninja!)

  • Ovo de Coruja

    Sad they gave up on Fish Out of Water for Android. Full of bugs and glitches, I used to love anyway.

  • David

    For everyone holding out for TA price drops and the TA employees posting said price drops, I hope that you are all very happy now. Real people are losing real jobs because you’d rather save 10 cents on a real game than pay real money for someone’s real hard work. Shame on you all.

    • Saveria

      When was the last premium halfbrick game released...Fruit Ninja: Math Master maybe?? Did that game fail because TA promoted it during a price drop? I'm confused, how did TA and it's readers looking for deals contribute to halfbrick's current struggles?

    • Shaun Musgrave

      If there's one thing game creators hate, it's when us media types write stories about the sales they send us press releases about. Those were just supposed to be a secret between them, their marketing person, and us!

  • WakenBake

    I tried the new game they are making, Raskulls online, and it was nothing special. Sad to see this happen but they didn't try very hard for a game to really differentiate them.

  • mrtruffle

    There is a beta for Fruit Ninja Battles on Android now worth checking out. Hey 30 people let go in Australia = redundancy payouts so some people get a nice payout which is much better than the company going under and leaving you unpaid.

    It's a tough business and at scale every decision costs a lot of money. For the people still at Halfbrick I hope they can continue to work and prosper. For the ones let go that sucks but I'm sure Halfbrick treated them right in the redunancy (it's illegal not to) and I bet it wasnt an easy decision at all.

    And to be fair Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride are more than just games. They are licenced IP.

  • TJF588

    Rebrand to "Quarterbrick"?