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Originally published Tuesday, June 21, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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80 laid off at Kirkland video-game maker after Sony deal

Monolith Productions, a Kirkland computer and video-game developer, said yesterday it would lay off 80 employees after transferring two...

Seattle Times technology reporter

Monolith Productions, a Kirkland computer and video-game developer, said yesterday it would lay off 80 employees after transferring two of its game titles to Sony Online Entertainment.

At least 25 of those employees have been offered jobs at Sony Online Entertainment's Bellevue office, about two miles away.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which owns Monolith, announced Friday it had sold "The Matrix Online," a game based on the "Matrix" movie series, to Sony Online Entertainment.

In addition, the companies signed licensing agreements allowing Sony Online Entertainment to develop a game based on characters from the Warner Bros.-owned DC Comics universe.

Both games are so-called massively multiplayer online titles, which offer vast, complex worlds and are generally played online for a subscription fee.

Sony Online Entertainment is considered to be a leader in the genre. In announcing the deal last week, Warner Bros. said the work by Sony will advance its properties within the online-games arena.

Monolith President Samantha Ryan said yesterday that more than 100 employees will remain after the layoffs, which are expected to occur during the next two months. On its Web site, the company said it employs 200 people.

Monolith is exiting the massively multiplayer business, Ryan said, and will no longer need some positions it had devoted to online games, such as its customer-support team.

The company is continuing to develop a shooter game for the PC called "F.E.A.R." and a shooter game for the next-generation Xbox platform called "Condemned: Criminal Origins."

Development of the DC Comics-themed game will be moved to Sony Online Entertainment's studio in Austin, Texas, said spokesman Chris Kramer.

Online maintenance and development of "The Matrix Online" will take place at Sony's Bellevue office, which opened late last year.

At the time, Sony said it planned to ramp up to 30 employees within a year. With the new arrivals from Monolith, the Bellevue office now has about 45 employees.

Monolith was founded in 1994 by some employees of Edmark, a Redmond children's software company that was acquired in 2000 by Dublin, Ireland-based Riverdeep Group. Edmark was closed a couple of years later, but Riverdeep maintains the brand.

Kim Peterson: 206-464-2360 or kpeterson@seattletimes.com

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