Words With Friends Co-Creator’s Studio Hit With Significant Layoffs

Playful Studios, the developer of Super Lucky’s Tale that was founded by the co-creator of Words With Friends, has announced major layoffs. In a statement, the company said it is enacting a round of significant layoffs as a result of “continued changes in the global video game marketplace.”

In a statement, Paul Bettner and Katy Drake Bettner said they are proud of what Playful has created since its founding in 2012. The pair also acknowledged that they took “significant risks” to grow their studio as they “dared to dream big,” but not all of its efforts worked out.

“Continued changes in the global video game marketplace require Playful to evolve its approach to the development and production of our current and future projects,” they said. “The studio will be pivoting to a more streamlined production model based on distributed game development and dynamic, project-based teams.”

As a result of this change, Playful is making the decision to “significantly reduce” the company’s full-time staff as part of an “incredibly difficult decision.”

“We are truly heartbroken to be parting ways with many of our friends and colleagues. These are people who have poured their hearts into every game Playful has created, who have supported us and each other every step of the way, and have truly made this studio what it is today,” Paul and Katy Bettner said. We will be working closely with each person affected by this transition to help them move forward.”

Paul Bettner started his career in games working on the Age of Empires series at Ensemble Studios for Microsoft. He started a new company, NewToy, in 2008. The studio would go on to create the extremely popular Words With Friends, which was acquired by Zynga in 2010. Bettner became vice president and general manager of Zynga until 2012, at which point he left to start Playful.

Randy Pitchford, the CEO of nearby studio Gearbox Software, said he was sorry to hear about Playful’s layoffs, and he reminded people that Gearbox is currently hiring.

It was recently confirmed that Playful developer Stephen Dupree left the studio to re-join Retro.

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