Cryptic layoffs alone totaled 18 people

Massively OP has been contacted by a Cryptic employee — who wishes to remain anonymous and whose identity we have confirmed — about the Perfect World/Cryptic layoffs yesterday that one former PWE staffer called a “slaughter.”

Our source tells us that 18 people were let go from Cryptic itself, approximately 14% of the studio. Half of those were Neverwinter staff, evening out the Neverwinter and Star Trek Online teams (we do know some STO staff, including former City of Heroes lead designer Matt Miller and the game’s community manager, were among those let go). The source believes the PWE Redwood Shores offices were hit significantly harder; our source reluctantly agreed that “yes, PWE is mostly to blame” for the debacle.

MMORPG fans will recall that Cryptic has pulled at least one developer from live projects to work on unannounced games. Those projects will continue: “The secret projects are unaffected,” says our source. “They’re a big focus for the company moving forward.”

Champions Online “is being left to chug along,” our source says. “It doesn’t take much to keep it afloat.” So there’s that.

“There’s an understandably somber attitude around here, but we’re trucking along,” our source concluded. “That’s to be expected when you’re pulled into an ‘impromptu company meeting’ by an email from the CEO the previous day.”

We’d like to thank our source for speaking with us and extend our sympathies to all of those affected by the layoffs. PWE has not yet responded to our requests, although we concede it’s possible that the standard PR rep is no longer with the company as of yesterday.

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165 comments
SimyJo
SimyJo

@Mysecretid:


"Matt Miller (a.k.a. Positron) was one of the core people who made City Of Heroes what it was, in terms of design.


For PWE to fire him shows a serious lack of awareness regarding their own talent on staff".


......


This a thousand fold.  Well said!.

gamersfright
gamersfright

I have been playing Jade Dynasty from PWE for over 5 years. The first 6 months we had a gm logged in all the time, next 3 months here and there, now its a tumbleweed. Fort Cloudstorm hasnt worked since it was released 4 years ago. Last expansion jacked up Elysium and pretty much killed what pvp was left. It took over 6 months for anyone of the forum to get an answer as to what was going on. From what we can tell if you dont play PWI you dont matter at all.

Porculasalvania
Porculasalvania

Hold my beer math incoming...


Hmm so that means the studio is 128 people and potentially a large dog that counts as .57 of a person.


Let's say each employee makes 60k/year (apparently the average is 84k) - just the salaries alone then is $7,714,285.71/year.  


Not including any other overhead like an office, health insurance, utilities, etc.. that's a lot of moola they need to make off of the cash shop from their games that are F2P.  


It they were on a subscription model at $10/month they'd need 64,285 active subs to break even.

RicharddeLeonIII
RicharddeLeonIII

@Porculasalvania The problem with a sub is keeping people subbed for the long term.  IMHO a typical person would expect regular updates for a sub whatever the price may be.  Unless a company can make significant content on a monthly basis, most people balk at the thought of paying a regular sub.  I dont see cryptic having the manpower to do that to any one of their games when they are running 3 MMOs with at least one more on the way.

SirUrza
SirUrza

@RicharddeLeonIII @Porculasalvania I don't think the point of his post was that they need subs, I think his point was they need to be making a butt load of money to maintain their current staff.

Hanthos
Hanthos

Sad to hear. I hope those let go find a new opportunity soon. :(

Arktouros
Arktouros

Never a fan of hearing people lose their jobs even if I wasn't a fan of the products they produced.

Hopefully they find work elsewhere.

Scarlet Shocker
Scarlet Shocker

I find it sad that a lot of people here seem to be slagging off Cryptic for producing crap games - but let's remember they produced one of the finest games of the MMO genre once. 


That's all I'm saying. 

Denice J Cook
Denice J Cook

I feel sorry for all those who lost their jobs, but I don't know that I'd call 18 people (14%) a "slaughter."


Now Daybreak Games losing 140?  That's a slaughter (this equated to 40% of their work force on some of their games).

breetoplay
breetoplay moderator

@Denice J Cook We still don't know how many were let go from PWE itself. :/ The bulk were apparently from there.

Scarlet Shocker
Scarlet Shocker

@Denice J Cook well technically it might be. After all a "Decimation" is 1:10 - so this is a very high percentage of the whole. 

Porculasalvania
Porculasalvania

@Denice J Cook In all fairness, in the context of people you've worked with day in and day out for years - yes - I can see how they consider it a "slaughter".  Yes its true that in most organizations there are "dead weight" people, but losing 14% of your workforce - that's definitely losing a decent number of people that were likely respected and hardworking.

KateLiliandra
KateLiliandra

PWE is only too make money and make their gamers farm and grind like bots in their aweful buggy outdated games. Star Trek Online is the worst farm/grind p2w game out there. Almost everything in the game has a price tag on it. Hardly any content. There are more ships to buy then there is up to date content. The game still has bugs dated back since 2010.


Cryptic should have never got PWE as their Publisher, the game is totally ruined, same as with Neverwinter, farm farm farm and no fun!


Yes, most mmo's games has farming in them, I agree, just games like Star Trek Online takes it to a next level. You are not farming for 1 currency, you are farming several different elements in the game, that is ssoooo time consuming and makes you wonder if you should immigrate to China and became a farmer! You need to farm several different types of reputation marks, you need to level up your reputations to Tier 5 that will take some time, you need to farm dilithium to get your cap each day, your farming Specialization points for this terrible Specialization Tree that takes ages to get it filled up. Then you have this crafting system called Research & Development which takes ages to level up and so on and on......


You better off playing other games.

SirUrza
SirUrza

@RicharddeLeonIII @KateLiliandra Yeap. I play STO as long as it takes me to complete knew content. I'm still running around in my fleet sovereign because that's the ship I like. Perhaps when they introduce the next content patch I'll figure out how to do the upgrade to the sovereign to make it count as the new tier of ship.

RicharddeLeonIII
RicharddeLeonIII

@KateLiliandra Although I agree on most points, one has to consider that to do all of the normal difficulty story content you do not need to have everything maxed out on that list.  Its definitely possible to do even endgame episodes(not fleet actions) in basic ships, gear and a no cash shop purchases.  I view the endgame reps and currency farmings as progression you can do at your own pace to keep you busy until the next episodic release.

I think a lot of STO players are there for the stories, not the min/max style of mmo gaming.  Lord knows i couldnt care less about the epics and ec/dilithium cash kings, I just want more episodic content which cryptic has done a good job at imho.

mysecretid
mysecretid

@SirUrza @RicharddeLeonIII 

I've been playing STO since day one, and yes, you're right. 

You don't need the highest-end gear to play the PvE game successfully in Star Trek Online. The person running the starship (you) is just as important for success. It's not simply a "gear game", despite what some will claim.

I've seen captains with all the best store-bought goodies get owned rapidly and repeatedly in PvP because they didn't know how to fly the ships they commanded. $$$ does not equal victory here.

In co-op mission (i.e. "raid") pick-up-groups, some of the ruder min/maxers may give you static because you're not defeating enemies as quickly as they are, but so what? As long as the objectives get completed, it doesn't matter. Better yet, play with friends, or join a friendly Fleet, so you don't have to hear random people whinge at you.

Short version: play what you like, and do what's fun for you. As long as you keep your brain switched on while playing, you'll get enough in terms of gear and in-game cash to play the Trek stories and to have fun adventures.

The store and the gear-grinding are optional, never required, and not having this week's so-called "uber build" will not prevent you from playing or from having a good time.

My experiences, anyway,

sdsenter
sdsenter

Looks like I picked a bad week to start playing Neverwinter...

DavidPhillips2
DavidPhillips2

I've checked Matt Miller's twitter account on many occasions and the fact that roughly 20% of his gaming posts were still about City of Heroes, that he has a pinned tweet from 4/28/14 regarding CoH Lore, only early on in his working on STO did I ever see any postings about STO... Didn't seem like he was happy there anyways.


Still shame that he and the others got laid off. Makes no difference to me. I tried STO after CoH got shutdown. The fact that early on you're defeating Borg by pounding them with your fists turned me off of that game faster than a ship full of Tribbles. Champions Online? Still have a free account, which I do sign into from time to time... and can only stand for about 15 minutes because I can't take the "world full of human apes" art style.

syberghost
syberghost

@DavidPhillips2 Matt Miller, aka "Positron", was the senior Cryptic person who stayed behind when they spun off their City of Heroes operation as Paragon Studios under NCsoft, and was Lead Designer from the City of Villains days on. He only came home to Cryptic recently. He spent nearly a decade of his life working on CoH and just over two years on STO. It's no wonder most of his posts are about CoH. :)


Denice J Cook
Denice J Cook

@DavidPhillips2 

I noticed that on Posi's twitter, too.  He never changed his Twitter title from ex-lead designer of CoX to reflect whatever position he had on the STO team, either.  This left me with the feeling that he wasn't that crazy about being there, but maybe PWE isn't that hot to work for.

duane99
duane99

@DavidPhillips2  Regardless of all the "no's" if MM announced a plan for COH2 I would signup/donate/send my left arm.

grom1
grom1

Some customer support from PWE dealing with obvious trolls would have gone a long way towards me kicking the company more money. After 4+ years of seeing my Report to GM tickets being replied to with the same canned response I kind of decided to spend my money elsewhere.

ScrotesMcGotes
ScrotesMcGotes

@grom1 GM reports cannot help your thin-skinned condition. And I'm pretty sure throwing internet dance parties never required much of an investment in the first place. Of course you can always suggest this game to your followers: https://yareel.com

Hyperstrike
Hyperstrike

@grom1 Basically PWE's mindset is "Are you spending money with us?"  And basically they mean "now" as in "right this second".  If you're submitting complaints, or bugs, the answer is "no" and you may as well try talking right and wrong with a politician.

Hyperstrike
Hyperstrike

Had a friend note that working standards in the MMO industry are somewhat at odds with project management in the rest of software development.

Basically it's because of WoW.

Before WoW metastisized into "That's no moon" territory, something the size of STO would have had companies jizzing their collective drawers off.  The MMO equivalent of The Avengers.

But now, due to WoW, anything that doesn't achive WoW-levels of success and money is a "failure", even if it isn't acknowledged as such.
Never mind that WoW is the MMO equivalent of a gluttonous Robert Wadlow on steroids.  Basically a freak of nature, produced by a mostly unique confluence of timing, placement and events.

Basically nobody's likely to EVER duplicate WoW-success, not even WoW, again.
But, because it existed, the sick attitudes in the gaming industry demand that an outlier become the benchmark for gauging all future success.

They toss money at projects and don't actually MANAGE them.  Leading to extravagant spending, lax standards, and the type of hackish spaghetti coding that most software developers only joke about, and generally crap their pants when they see.

Then, because they didn't manage the money or the project, there's a panicked influx of "Git 'er done" cash at the end to throw lipstick onto the pig.

And they release, and expect 30 million people to sign up and pay.

A few months down the road, when this, inevitably, doesn't happen, the investors want their money back.  ALL of it.  NOW.
Or, once they realize what it takes to actually keep things going, they get cold feet.

They were looking for a "Trading Places" type windfall, and have suddenly become landlords instead.

And all "unnecessary" spending (basically ALL spending) begins slowing down, eventually stopping completely.

STO had one thing going for it though.  The franchise.
Every time there was a movie, BOOM, instant advertising and an influx of players.

But it's been two years since the last movie.  The next movie isn't due out for another year.  And there's no series to prop anything up at this time.

So STO is hemorrhaging players at a rate in excess of them bringing on new players.

And, because of Cryptic and PWE's natural inclinations, their basic response is "Cut Costs At All Costs!"

Which now puts them in danger of not being able to respond in a timely fashion once the next movie debuts.  Like CO's former players.  They'll come back, see that nothing much has really changed or been added, and leave immediately.

And, as the cycle between movies lengthens, it just gets worse and worse.

I can see STO surviving till the next movie.  But if there's another 3 year wait, I'm betting Paramount yanks the license.

Peregrine_Falcon
Peregrine_Falcon

@Hyperstrike Everything you said is spot on, as usual. Except that it's CBS that licenses Star Trek to Cryptic, not Paramount.

VoySy
VoySy

What PWE Redwood branch was even doing?  Serious question.

AmberRay
AmberRay

@VoySy The Redwood branch is the main US headquarters for PWE. This is where the general staff of all the other PWE games work (Swordsman online, Forsaken World, Jade Dynasty, Battle of the Immortals etc.) Basically if they work on the games that come from China, they are there--this is their first office.

hostagecat
hostagecat

This is definately not good news!!!!!!!


Again they seemed to be doing well and boom other shoe drops will it ever end!!!!!

mysecretid
mysecretid

Matt Miller (a.k.a. Positron) was one of the core people who made City Of Heroes what it was, in terms of design.


For PWE to fire him shows a serious lack of awareness regarding their own talent on staff.


It's funny, when PWE first took over Star Trek Online, we all worried that bad times would quickly ensue. Apparently, we didn't dodge the bullet after all, it just took longer to get here.


The current state of the Defiance game over at Trion is a cautionary tale for this, I think -- Trion gutted their staff, according to the scuttlebutt, and ... surprise! Defiance now plays like a game on maintenance at best, and players like myself are leaving in droves.


It creates a downward spiral for an MMORPG that becomes increasingly harder to break the longer the conditions persist.

There's the the old saying "it takes money to make money" and this definitely applies to MMORPGs, I think -- you have to put ongoing money into MMORPGs to get ongoing profits out of them. They're not a "one and done" sort of investment.

My opinions, anyway,

ScrotesMcGotes
ScrotesMcGotes

 I'd say it's shame they didn't lay off Al Rivera, but I doubt STO will ever recover from the damage he has done to it. 

Alex J
Alex J

I've tried out all of the Cryptic's games, didn't like any of them, especially STO. Was kind of surprised they are still active as a company. That said, it definitely sucks for people to be fired, hopefully all of them will be able to find appropriate jobs at better game development companies.

Blackomen
Blackomen

@Alex J Whales keep them afloat, firing the employees is likely just to increase profits for the CEOs.

rioinsignia
rioinsignia

Whilst I may have particular opinions on these MMO's, my feelings at this time are with those affected by the job losses.  Hopefully they will find work elsewhere.

JonBuck
JonBuck

Just how oversaturated is the MMO market at this point, anyway?

Saerain
Saerain

@JonBuck We've been calling it oversaturated since 2001. Hard to tell.

Midgetsnowman
Midgetsnowman

@JonBuck somewhat if you're talking big name games. if you're talking every single korean fly by night slapdash show and every obscure 5-man tech demo..well, then its less oversaturated and more like trying to cram every single known species of animal onto noah's ark. IE, its probably not going to float or even hold half of them.

AdeptusEnginus
AdeptusEnginus

@Midgetsnowman @JonBuck Hey now, that's just inconsiderate...


...To Noah's Ark. At least Noah's Ark, as the story goes, was DESIGNED to hold every species of known animal. This is more like everyone saw how cool Noah's Ark was, and they decided to make their own Noah's Ark, but they were determined to Ark of Noahcraft better than he had, so they started adding THREE of every known animal! Four! TEN! IT'S BETTER!

Then the flood hit and the SSR WarNoah Online: Age of Arkening sunk under it's own weight, followed by a plethora of other ships. Meanwhile, Noah's Ark had some bumpy times; a few leaks needed to be plugged and they basically redid the entire interior to be more accessible to the crew maintaining the animals. Some of Noah's Family got pissed at all the changes and went off to make smaller boats, which inspired more smaller boats. Eventually there were so many miniature Arks that nobody wanted to ride them, but they wound up making them a bit more appealing by removing the entry fee. Unfortunately, no matter how much they polished and improved their little Arks, the reality was that they could never get to the same level as Noah's. The crowning pinnacle was when they all got together and tried one last time to one-up Noah with The Noah Rep-Ark-lic, but they put too much effort into the crew, forgot half the animals and the boat was so shoddily put together that it started springing leaks almost immediately.

But they kept trying, years and years and years. Even now there are still some, like the USS Noahstar who are all raring for a piece of the Ark-pie, but most of them have acknowledge it's too late.

Some have even decided to try something new entirely. There's rumors that the flood is starting to die down and new architects are trying to cater to an audience that may be interested in faster boats flowing in smaller seas. As of late, the USS Noahlot Arkchained has been turning some heads, and some old veteran ship builders have been working on a really strange looking boat they call CrowArk; taking Noah out of it entirely!

But alas, many of those old, rejected small Arks still flow the seas today, trying desperately to stay afloat before the tide engulfs them for good.

imperialpanda
imperialpanda

Didn't PWE basically save them back when Atari wanted to get rid of them and they were losing millions a year?

Should just be glad they were paid for 4 more years.

imperialpanda
imperialpanda

@Pigmenta OtQ  Why? Because I called someone out on putting blame on the people who paid their salary for 4 more years when they probably otherwise would've lost their job?

If they didn't like PWE they had plenty of time to find another job.

When someone gives you a second chance even though you're in a deep hole, you don't turn around and blame them when things don't work out perfectly.

mysecretid
mysecretid

@imperialpanda 

Yes. Credit where credit is due. It's a matter of record that after Atari announced -- pretty much overmight -- that they were getting out of the MMORPG business, PWE was the only publisher at that time willing to step up and take over the games.

Ceder
Ceder

@breetoplay @imperialpanda @Pigmenta OtQ  I'd say Cryptic was less "rescued" by PWE and more Cryptic using them as their latest mark.  3 companies they've pitched themselves to and then subseqyently bled. That's their MO.

nightbeard
nightbeard

There were and are still very good reasons why cryptic is abysmal at comercial viability. Producing half finished janky games with repetitive instanced content. Champions is an embarrassment to the mmo genre and the lack of leadership and vision regarding that title alone says volumes about the studio.

Cryptic is reaping the harvest of mediocrity it has sowed over the last five years.

SallyBowls1
SallyBowls1

@breetoplay @imperialpanda @Pigmenta OtQ Yeah, it could have been phrased more delicately but I see the analogy to CN/DBG.  Nobody likes the current CN/DBG news, but there are considerable arguments that if SOE had been more productive and successful the last few year, this would not be happening.  Is PWE/CN the cause/fault, or merely, like Atropos/Morta the executor of fate?

Denice J Cook
Denice J Cook

@SallyBowls1


And ironically, if EQ2Wire is to be believed, PWE tried to buy out SOE.  They were something like one signature away when Smedley supposedly tanked the deal.


I was actually holding out hope that PWE was one of the potential financial backers for the behind-closed-doors deal to rez CoX and its IP.  I mean, back when the deal first started, Posi was there, Jack is there, and at least PWE has more experience running MMO servers and judging income ranges over time to set their budgets to than random CoX fans do.  (And that's not a dis to the fans, either, it's just a fact.)  Now I guess this puts them out of the picture for that.

breetoplay
breetoplay moderator

@imperialpanda @Pigmenta OtQ I don't think it's jackassery (maybe not phrased so carefully, but not jackassery). People love to take a crap on PWE because how easy is it to hate some Chinese company that does lockboxes (like everyone else, but never mind that detail). But they did rescue Cryptic. That should matter. Those games are living on borrowed time, and I for one am grateful, and I bet those devs are too. ffs, they are keeping Champs going. That alone is worth something in a world where literally any other company would have dumped it long ago.

In the same way, I'm still furious at AOL for neglecting us and deleting one of the biggest gaming networks in the world without so much as a blink, but I still appreciate that they paid the bills for so many years. These are not mutually exclusive sentiments.

FWIW when our source first told me the 18 number, I thought it was for the whole company. No, just Cryptic. PWE's Redwood branch apparently lost far, far more. PWE could have passed those losses onto Cryptic much more severely and clearly didn't.