announcement yesterday that its Guitar Hero business unit would be disbanded and no new music games would be released this year, 7 Studios producer Damon Conn tweeted, "Directly affected me. Our music games division really took a hit today."
"Activision is shutting down the Guitar Hero business as of today. This includes my studio," another 7 Studios staff member named Alex confirmed last night on Twitter, "Anyone know of any open associate producer jobs?" (This appears to be the Twitter account of 7 Studios' Alex Beckers, who has updated his LinkedIn profile to reflect the end of his employment at the studio. [Update: Beckers has confirmed his Twitter identity.])
"Lame day, but [I'm] optimistic about the future [and] wish the best to all my current/former colleagues," added 7 Studios creative director Dan Lehrich on his Twitter account. "Good luck to all, let me know if I can help." Lehrich later exchanged tweets with Beckers in a heartfelt goodbye.
7 Studios was acquired by Activision in early 2009, an action that launched a still-ongoing series of lawsuits with publisher Genius Products, which had contracted 7 Studios to create Scratch: The Ultimate DJ (pictured) before Activision stepped in and scooped up the studio (halting Scratch's development). In October 2009, Activision reportedly reduced 7 Studios' staff by half, leaving the developer with approximately 30 employees (LinkedIn currently lists 36).
7 Studios was assumed to be the DJ Hero "B-team," supporting Freestyle Games as needed, including work on DJ Hero 2. "I can't tell you what they're doing, but they're doing some cool stuff," Activision exec Dave Stohl told us last July. "They have supported FreeStyle a little bit, but they're doing something new and different." According to Lehrich's LinkedIn page, 7 Studios was involved in the creation of the Guitar Hero VIP Pass DLC hub, in addition to "Unannounced Projects" for iOS and "Various Prototypes/Concepts" for a number of platforms.
Both Conn and Beckers additionally list involvement in last year's Space Camp.
Update: A source close to the situation, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells us that approximately half of 7 Studios' staff members were immediately laid off and will receive sixty days worth of severance pay. The remaining staff are apparently directly involved with the aforementioned lawsuits, which are reported to go to trial next month. Allegedly, these staff will be paid for the next 120 days, which is expected to cover the time it takes to resolve the legal dispute with Genius Products. The source additionally confirmed that 7 Studios had been working on a few music-related iOS games.