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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SimyJo
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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
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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.

AmberRay
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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 (Champions online, Forsaken World, Jade Dynasty, etc.) Basically if they work on the games that come from China, they are there.

mysecretid
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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. "raids") 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 having a good time.

My experiences, anyway,

SirUrza
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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.

SirUrza
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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.

RicharddeLeonIII
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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.

RicharddeLeonIII
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RicharddeLeonIII

Scarlet Shocker agreed.  Even their current crop of games are good to great on some level if the cash shop influences werent so bad.

RicharddeLeonIII
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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.

Porculasalvania
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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.

Porculasalvania
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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.

syberghost
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syberghost

Denice J Cook Midgetsnowman when a game dev CEO thinks like a gamer instead of a businessman, they tend to run their companies into the ground. When they think like a businessman instead of a gamer, they tend to piss off the gamers.

I would not want to run a game development studio.

Denice J Cook
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Denice J Cook

Midgetsnowman 
Every company does this; it's why SOE got into so much trouble, bleeding off all the profits from EQ1 and EQ2 and putting them into too many new projects all at once.  You've got to grow a business, it's just apparently hard to judge when you're biting off more than you can chew.

Denice J Cook
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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, 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 accordingly 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.

syberghost
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syberghost

ZenJitzu skoryy syberghost assuming he hasn't just neglected to update his Linkedin, Back Alley Brawler is at the current Cryptic, and has been since 2010.

ZenJitzu
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ZenJitzu

skoryy syberghost ZenJitzu I remember at their lowest point they had 15, and were producing some great things even then. I think Back Alley Brawler alone posted more on the CoH forums than all of the STO team has in the same amount of time. :-)
I miss that team.

Hanthos
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Hanthos

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

Arktouros
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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
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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.

Peregrine_Falcon
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Peregrine_Falcon

JayBezzOfficial Not true. I'd heard the term Maintenance Mode used many times before Champions Online even launched.

JayBezzOfficial
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JayBezzOfficial

Peregrine_Falcon Maintenence Mode is a term INVENTED just for Champions Online.  It literally wasn't in the lexicon of MMORPGs until PWE

duane99
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duane99

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

Scarlet Shocker
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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.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

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

Denice J Cook
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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).

Denice J Cook
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Denice J Cook

DavidPhillips2 
I noticed that on Posi's twitter, too.  He never changed his Twitter's 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 wasn't that hot to work for.  Didn't they own Cryptic by then?

SallyBowls1
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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?

KateLiliandra
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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.

ScrotesMcGotes
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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.

kalex716
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kalex716

ZenJitzu TheCynabal Whhhaaat? You do know that in the industry, Rockstar games studios are notorious for having the worst developer conditions imaginable. The stories about people crunching for years on beloved games like Red Dead Redemption are legendary!

Hyperstrike
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Hyperstrike

sdsenter Why do I now have a picture of Lloyd Bridges in my head?

sdsenter
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sdsenter

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

syberghost
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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. :)

nightbeard
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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.

syberghost
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syberghost

mysecretid ZenJitzu pcgneurotic industry rumor was that the only other western publisher who even inquired about the STO rights when Perpetual folded was SOE, and they passed. That would likely have been due to the license terms, which required completion by a certain date that was only achievable if you had an engine already to build on. Cryptic was one of the few who did; SOE was still building theirs. As it was, Cryptic (I'm not going on rumor now, this is personal knowledge from insiders) negotiated extra time to even get it done with their engine, as PE's code was 100% unusable. CBS put a hard cap on that extra time due to the movies.

The timing was perfect, as they were not going to make it on just the money they got from getting something out the door from the Marvel debacle. CO is the game that never should have existed; any developer with an existing game would have just scrapped it when Marvel pulled out, instead of trying to find an obscure IP and through heroic effort build a game around it on remnants of funds.

For all that it's not a bad game, and it taught them a lot about making the next ones better. I share its devotees' wish that it will someday get more dev love, but I fear that will require something else to be a huge breakout hit to fund it. It's probably only even still around due to Jack being a huge Champions aficionado in the first place.

If they'd make it so I could give them $50 one time and unlock color customization for my main, I'd play it a lot more.

DavidPhillips2
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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.

Golden_Girl
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Golden_Girl

VoySy Something to do with lockboxes.

Golden_Girl
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Golden_Girl

mysecretid PWE doesn't really do talent - just money.

Peregrine_Falcon
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Peregrine_Falcon

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

Ceder
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Ceder

vemerce  Frankly Ive no issues with seeing the carni booth mmo's and their makers drying up.  The industry is rife with snake oil.

Hyperstrike
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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.

Ceder
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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.

grom1
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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.

Hyperstrike
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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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 coding that
currently has Leo & Company ready to implode.
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.

VoySy
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VoySy

What PWE Redwood branch was even doing?  Serious question.

Scarlet Shocker
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Scarlet Shocker

Sad news for those concerned.

pcgneurotic
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pcgneurotic

ZenJitzu pcgneurotic Sorry, I always get a bit defensive in Cryptic/STO/NW posts. :D I'm also having similar thoughts about NW as you are with STO (which I've also invested quite a lot of time and money in), i.e. it would be awful if PW was already looking ahead at trashing them. Well, I know that NW should be safe for a while, because WOTC just renewed their licensing deal with them, but I don't know about Paramount. I suspect in both these cases, the license would have to lapse and PW choose not to renew it in order for those games to die. And as for the unannounced projects -- I think I read somewhere that they do have something new cooking. Or maybe I'm mixing that up with Funcom.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

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.

hostagecat
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hostagecat

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

mysecretid
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mysecretid

ZenJitzu pcgneurotic 
People have this idea that if Cryptic were to fold, some other publisher would want to rush in and buy their properties (like Star Trek) amd "do them right" -- according to the poster's highly-personalized notion of whatever "right" happens to be.
These folks completely misunderstand how investor psychology and business works at that level. Something tanks? It's seen simply seen as a "failed project" -- something to be avoided.

Investors see the project as something the market does not want at this time. At best, it might be a property to re-visit in five to ten years, maybe.

There are always exceptions to everything, of course, but wishing for Game X to die so that someone else can quickly pick it up do it "right" is not the way things work, as a rule.

This is part of the reason why Cryptic was so grateful when PWE picked them up after the sudden dump by Atari -- they knew they were likely to be seen as tainted/failed goods from a business standpoint, through no fault of their own.

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