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ImaginEngine game studio shuts down (exclusive)

The ImaginEngine game studio, owned by Foundation 9 Entertainment, has shut down, GamesBeat has learned. The shutdown has cost about 25 developers their jobs, including studio head Randall Sanborn.

The shutdown is another symptom of a funk in the game industry, which has been hit by lower demand for console games and a transition to new markets and next-generation consoles. Last week, another sister company, Foundation 9 Entertainment’s developer Backbone Entertainment also laid off workers this week. Foundation 9 chief executive James North-Hearn confirmed the Backbone layoffs, but he has not yet responded to a request for comment about ImaginEngine.

Like Backbone, ImaginEngine developed both work-for-hire (like the video game version of the Apples to Apples board game pictured above) and original games for all gaming platforms and other media as well. The larger Foundation 9 company has been in existence since 1992, when it was called Digital Eclipse. It changed its name to Backbone Entertainment in 2003, when Digital Eclipse merged with ImaginEngine (ImaginEngine remained a separate studio in Framingham, Mass., near Boston). To date, ImaginEngine has created more than 200 titles.

Sanborn joined ImaginEngine in the early 1990s and he helped it ship more than 150 products.

Update: North-Hearn confirmed the shut down in an email. He said, ““The market conditions for console and handheld games are challenging at best right now, but the kids & family genre, where ImaginEngine has a long history, has been particularly hard-hit. Due to this, we have unfortunately decided to close the ImaginEngine studio in Framingham, MA over the next month. We have offered positions to a number of the talented ImaginEngine team members to transfer to Pipeworks, our studio in Eugene, Oregon, with a dedicated focus on the growing live games space. We are actively providing assistance, including help in finding new opportunities, to those not making the move. I would like to publicly thank these individuals for their service to ImaginEngine and wish them the best, as well as to thank the individuals undertaking the relocation as we emerge from this restructuring period best positioned to deliver quality products across all platforms.”


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