NBCUniversal to shut down its game publishing business

NBCUniversal is getting out of the game publishing business. Instead, it will shift its efforts to a licensing model. A spokesperson was unable to comment on how many of the roughly 50-person team would leave the company, and how many would be reassigned internally.

“Given the realities of the increasingly competitive nature of the mobile games landscape, Universal Brand Development (UBD) is shifting its investment and approach in Games to opportunities that don’t require mobile self-publishing,” an NBCUniversal spokesperson told Polygon in an email. “This will allow UBD to deepen their licensing and partnership opportunities across all gaming platforms. As a result of this shift, the team has undergone a restructuring to be better positioned for long-term success.”

One recent success of that licensing model is Jurassic World Evolution by Frontier Developments, makers of Elite: Dangerous. The park builder has received critical acclaim, including here at Polygon, and gone on to sell well.

For mobile games in the NBCUniversal catalog that are currently in active development or already live, including the Pokémon Go-style augmented reality game Jurassic World Alive, the path forward is less clear.

“Based on our recent organizational re-alignment,” said an NBCUniversal spokesperson, “we’re working with our development partners on alternative publishing paths for some of the games in our mobile portfolio. Specific details for each title will be announced at a later date.”

The shutdown of the publishing business is a recurring theme for executive vice president Chris Heatherly. As GamesBeat reports, Heatherly left Disney in 2016 when it elected to close down its own game development studios and move to a licensing model. NBCUniversal says he will stay on at the company through the end of the year.

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