Lane County is losing 97 high-paying high-tech jobs as computer game maker Dynamix closes its Eugene studio.
Dynamix’s parent company, Sierra On-Line, on Monday said it is shutting Dynamix’s facility in the Riverfront Research Park near the University of Oregon as it moves product development and marketing functions to Sierra’s headquarters in Bellevue, Wash.
Sierra is part of Vivendi, a huge French conglomerate, which has holdings ranging from water utilities to the movie studio that produced “Jurassic Park III.”
Sierra provided no further details about the closure. But employees said a small development group would finish up some projects and the offices would be vacated in the next few months.
The layoffs at Dynamix strike another blow to an economy already weakened by the loss of 400 jobs at Komag Inc., a computer hard-disk-drive manufacturer that shut down in April, and a six-month layoff of 600 Hynix workers while the company upgrades to produce a new computer chip.
With no other major computer game makers in town, some Dynamix workers on Monday said they’ll apply for more traditional jobs in software development and computer processing.
Others said they would seek work in gaming centers such as Seattle and the San Francisco Bay area. Still others were planning to start new computer-game businesses in Eugene.
“It’s astonishing that (Dynamix) got cut because of the amount of talent here,” said Dave Georgeson, senior producer and director for Dynamix’s core games unit. “They could be reorganized into something incredible.”
Workers said they had been expecting bad news since Thursday, when they were sent home from work around lunchtime and told to attend a meeting at a Springfield hotel on Monday.
Last week, rumors were flying around the office and on the internet, employees said.
“The signs have been there for some time,” said Dave Stambaugh, computer network administrator at Dynamix for the past eight years. “Things really snowballed last week.”
After the meeting, several workers said they were disappointed to lose rewarding jobs at a creative, dynamic company.
“It was the best job I ever had,” said Jackie Carpentier, 29, a quality assurance engineer for Dynamix for the past year. “It was fabulous - the people and the work. I was just glad to be a part of it.”
Dynamix, which was founded in 1984 by two UO students, first made its mark with flight simulation games.
In recent years, the studio developed such titles as the “Tribes” games - in which teams of players fight for survival in a futuristic world - “Trophy Bass Fishing” and the “3D Ultra” series of simulations of pinball, miniature golf and billiards.
Sierra said the “Tribes” franchise would be managed out of its headquarters in Bellevue and that it would review other Dynamix titles that are in production. It didn’t comment on the future of Dynamix’s other products.
Although the computer game industry is volatile and competitive, some workers thought Dynamix would survive.
“We were fairly convinced the because of the success of the (‘Tribes’) franchise, we’d be protected,” said Georgeson, the senior producer and director of Dynamix’s core games unit, which included “Tribes 2.”
He and other workers thought executives at Sierra valued Dynamix’s work but that higher-level managers at Vivendi perhaps did not.