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Scribblenauts sequel canceled, series creator lays off staff

Scribblenauts series developer 5th Cell has laid off the majority of its staff following the sudden cancelation of a sequel game midway through development.

Studio CEO Jeremiah Slaczka confirmed that 45 staffers lost their jobs in the wake of the cancelation, but notes that the studio will remain in operation with a drastically reduced workforce.

Related: Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure review

5th Cell announced this week’s layoffs after publisher Warner Bros. canceled Scribblenauts: Fighting Words, a series sequel being developed for mobile devices. The cancelation caught the studio off-guard, leading to dozens of lost jobs as 5th Cell’s remaining staff scrambles to reassess its business plans.

“WB canceled [Fighting Words] today so we had to lay off the staff,” Slaczka told Polygon. “It happened so quick we’re not sure what the plans are going forward yet.”

“Unfortunately, due to a project cancelation, we have had to let go of 45 of our very talented staff members today,” Slaczka later clarified in a statement issued to Gamasutra. “Layoffs aren’t something we take lightly and we’d like to thank all our employees for all the hard work and dedication over the years.”

Slaczka continued: “5th Cell as a company is not closing down, but our focus right now is 100% on helping our staff make the transition to other external opportunities. If we haven’t already reached out, any interested employer can reach us at jobs@5thcell.com.”

5th Cell found its initial success on the Nintendo DS with titles like Drawn to Life, a creativity-focused game that encouraged players to solve puzzles by drawing specific tools and weapons on the platform’s touch screen. The studio continued to explore the realm of player-dictated content with Scribblenauts, an inventive puzzle-platformer in which players can summon thousands of interactive objects and characters by inputting specific words and phrases.

A Scribblenauts sequel premiered in 2010, and a third entry in the series, Scribblenauts Unlimited, hit the 3DS, Wii U, and PC platforms in 2012. The superhero-themed Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure was the final series entry to ship for consoles and PCs in 2013.