Romero's Slipgate Ironworks Hammered Down, MMO Project Still On

Slipgate Ironworks, the game development company founded by ex-id Software, ex-Ion Storm designer John Romero, has been pared down by parent company Gazillion, Kotaku has learned, with the start up's unnamed MMO still in development with a "smaller core team."

Word of the San Mateo, California based developer being hit with layoffs came earlier today via Kotaku tipsters, with quiet mention of the cutbacks hitting Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, the latter two home to "ex-Slipgate Ironworkers" groups. We reached out to a few ex-Slipgate employees who confirmed that they were no longer with the company as of this week, estimating that around 50 staffers were let go.

According to a statement from Gazillion—home to Gargantuan, NetDevil, Slipgate and The Amazing Society—the team at Slipgate Ironworks is now officially smaller, with some of the affected employees being placed at other positions within the company. Slipgate's MMO project, which John Romero briefly detailed a few years ago, is said to continue with a new format.

"Gazillion has enjoyed remarkable growth over the past year and is proud to be partners with revered, world-class brands," reads a statement. "We have expanded our number of studios from one to four and our MMO portfolio from two games to a slate of titles. As part of our focus on reaching the widest possible audiences with breakthrough MMO entertainment, we decided to change the format of our project at Slipgate Ironworks to better achieve this aim."

That may mean some changes from the game's original vision, according to Gazillion.

"The game we'll launch will build on the efforts to date with a smaller core team and the other Slipgate staff are already in discussions around the many open positions across our slate of projects," the statement notes. "2010 will be an exciting year for Gazillion as we bring several groundbreaking MMOs to markets worldwide. We're tremendously appreciative for the dedication and creativity of our employees who make this all possible."

Gazillion Entertainment signed a 10-year-long deal with Marvel Entertainment earlier this year to produce a number of titles based on the comic book publisher's properties. Slipgate was said to be working on an original property for Gazillion, not related to the Marvel deal.