Viacom Next VR/AR studio shuts down

Developer of Smash Party and Transformers: Cade’s Junkyard axed as part of larger layoffs at Viacom

Viacom Next has folded. As reported by Variety, the virtual reality and augmented reality studio was closed this week as part of a wider round of layoffs for Viacom.

A spokesperson told the site that some Viacom Next employees were let go, while others will be moved elsewhere within the company. Additionally, the spokesperson said the closure should not be seen as a referendum on VR and AR themselves.

“We remain deeply committed to developing immersive experiences for consumers through groundbreaking augmented and virtual reality,” the representative said. “As part of our efforts to coordinate Viacom’s approach to next-generation platforms and solutions across our brands, we are absorbing Viacom Next into our Global Emerging Opportunities Group. A number of Viacom Next’s creators and engineers will join this group, however a small number of employee positions have been affected. We appreciate these colleagues’ contributions and are making every effort to assist them through benefits and support, including severance and outplacement assistance.”

Viacom Next was formed in 2016 to explore the potential of AR and VR. The team consisted of more than a dozen people, and produced a variety of experiences using the tech, from games like the augmented reality mobile offering Transformers: Cade’s Junkyard to music videos like Billy Corgan’s “Aeronaut.” Last year it released two HTC Vive projects on Steam, Hot Sugar’s VR musical album The Melody of Dust and the party game Smash Party, which debuted in Early Access in mid-December.