US publisher / developer LucasArts has confirmed that it has made 29 staff at its San Rafael offices in California redundant, bringing the head count at the company, which has cancelled several projects in recent months, under the 400 mark.
Employees were apparently informed of the layoffs at a meeting at the end of last week, and a spokesperson for LucasArts told US website GameSpot that the cutbacks were designed to "bring studio staffing levels into line with the current development slate."
Presumably, then, those affected by the move will have been working on projects which are no longer in existence. Since announcing a raft of new titles at E3 last May, LucasArts has gone on to cancel several of them - with the axe falling hardest on the studio's attempts to resurrect its once-great range of adventure titles. Sequels to both Sam & Max and Full Throttle have been cancelled in the past year.
Perhaps more worrying than the layoffs, however, is the fact that LucasArts has spent the last six months without a president following the resignation of Simon Jeffery last October. Although the company is apparently still searching for a replacement for Jeffery, the fact remains that it has spent over half a year lacking one of the most key leadership figures in the corporate structure.
It will be interesting to see what LucasArts brings to E3 this year. With no Factor 5 title expected to show (as the studio is no longer working on current generation technology), layoffs taking place at the company's headquarters and a number of last year's headline games now canned, the firm will need to produce something very impressive in order to overcome industry scepticism over the prospects for its upcoming release schedule.