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eOne-owned VR studio Secret Location closes amid Hasbro strategic review

Secret Location VR game Nerf Ultimate Championship

Toronto-based VR studio Secret Location, which garnered international acclaim for its innovative work and immersive entertainment, has shut down as parent company Hasbro continues to undertake a strategic review of Entertainment One (eOne)’s assets.

The studio, which eOne fully acquired in 2016, was renowned for its work at the intersection of content and technology, becoming the first company to win a Primetime Emmy for a VR project, the Sleepy Hollow Virtual Reality Experience. Its other credits include the VR games Nerf Ultimate Championship and Blasters of the Universe.

In a LinkedIn post, president and co-founder Ryan Andal said Secret Location was closed down last week as part of “a number of areas of business Hasbro is divesting from,” with several employees being laid off.

“Some of the things we built will be moving under different divisions within Hasbro, and I’m happy to see the work being passionately moved forward by some members of my team,” said Andal. “But many of my friends and coworkers were dismissed as part of this overall restructuring and shutdown, myself included.”

The closure of Secret Location comes as eOne’s parent co Hasbro continues with a strategic review of the global studio’s assets.

Since acquiring eOne in 2019, Hasbro has divested several assets, including music publishing company eOne Music, which was acquired by private equity giant Blackstone in April 2021.

Last week during an investor presentation, Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks said the company was exploring what to do with some of its other eOne-owned entertainment assets.

“As part of that process, we’re exploring how best to maximise the growth and value of marquee assets like our 10,000-plus-asset content library including premium hits like The Rookie, Yellowjackets, Naked & Afraid and the Mark Gordon library,” he said.

The closure of Secret Location, which was founded in 2008, comes two months after it was revealed that eOne’s longtime president and CEO Darren Throop is stepping down at the end of the year when his contract expires.

Andal added: “Having had some time to reflect on these last 14 years, it’s been a beautiful journey building this company. I had the immense pleasure of working alongside some of the most talented people in technology and entertainment – building fun, outlandish and, at times, impossible things.

“I am so proud of all of it, the successes, the failures, the attempts and everything in between.”

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