Pathfinder Online lays off almost entire staff

Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens has announced to Pathfinder Online supporters that the majority of the Goblinworks team working on the game has been laid off.

We knew we needed a certain amount of money to finish to build the game, and we came really damn close, but we just couldn’t find the last bit of funding that we needed. […] Last Friday, we had to lay off most of the staff. […] I couldn’t pay them anymore. We gave them lots of warning, so they all knew this was coming.

CTO Mark Kalms, Art Director Mike Hines, and Designer Bob Settles are all that remain of the studio. According to Stevens, Goblinworks CEO Ryan Dancey left the company two weeks ago for personal reasons unrelated to the layoffs. Lee Hammock and Steven Cheney were also apparently among those let go.

Work on the game will continue with the three remaining employees, paid by existing subscription revenue, which will also keep the servers online. Paizo is closing the Goblinworks office and moving the trio into the Paizo offices. Stevens says Paizo is seeking an external publisher to buy Goblinworks or investors to complete the game. There is hope, she says, since 75% of the game is already paid for; she expects the game will take between 1 million and 2 million dollars to finish.

Stevens further hints that the game’s original Kickstarter was intended to speed up the project and was predicated on additional investment commitments that didn’t fully materialize. Another Kickstarter, she says, is not planned as the team is still working on existing Kickstarter rewards.

When asked what the community can do, she suggested that continuing to play and pay the early enrollment subscription, inviting new players, and treating new players well is most helpful.

Our sympathies extend to the entire studio and its players.

Source: Soundcloud, official post. Thanks, Slapshot1188.
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kradlum
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kradlum

cursedseishi I also backed for all the tabletop stuff that came with the kickstarters. I played for about 6 months before my laptop fritzed out then sold my account. All in all I am happy with what I got out of the kickstarters.

The game was basic and buggy to begin with but it improved quite a bit over the time I played it. Like most sandbox games, you get out of it what you put in. I had 2 characters gaining xp so I could make my own armour and weapons. My group met up most nights, although I was on UK time and they were on US time so I played mostly with them on weekends. We did a lot of PvE to get recipes, and a bit of PvP to protect our territory. They were going to nerf archry shortly after I quit and that was part of what made me to decide to sell my account rather than invest in a new laptop.

kradlum
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kradlum

cursedseishi

Gylnne
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Gylnne

Tridus AilsaN10 We are told it takes millions but does it really?

Gylnne
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Gylnne

dradiinmmo jefreahard Would be interesting to see how lavish or not the devs live as they develop games from successful kickstarters.

Gylnne
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Gylnne

masonweaver LOL

Gylnne
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Gylnne

SoMuchMass Did they tell the backers he left? If not they should have.

Gylnne
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Gylnne

rottenrotny  “Paid alphas/betas and cash shops for games not even released yet needs to go.”
 Agree, but the only way that will happen is if gamers start hold on to the wallets and stop giving these companies money until they deliver the product.

Gylnne
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Gylnne

Wakkander Grave Knight Tridus Hmm if I understand you correctly they decided to add pvp to a established table top game that was all pve and drew that kind of crowd? So in other words screw you existing players that love pve we are adding pvp because we say it is good for you!

Gylnne
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Gylnne

ScottHenry1 KryptonianGL Scott there are many pve games that are successful without pvp. Saying you need pvp to be a successful PC game is lame and does not hold up to the history of MMO’s.

ScottHenry1
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ScottHenry1

KryptonianGL except for a PC game you need variety. You would be a terrible CEO. Also this is in an area that is very frontier like so there would be PVP.

KryptonianGL
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KryptonianGL

*Re-posting my comment as the original was deleted (not sure why). Hopefully it wasn’t my comment and was deleted by a mod, but the user that started that thread. Regardless, my comment is fair and I have a right to an opinion.

It is sad, but it is hard to feel sorry for them when
they went completely against the grain, in an opposing direction of what
they’ve worked so hard to build in their tabletop game.
I
love Pathfinder tabletop. It’s a hell of a lot of fun if played with a
competent DM. However, Pathfinder Online is FAR from Pathfinder
tabletop, therefore, the IP is completely wasted IMHO!
Pathfinder tabletop is a cooperative PvE
game, NOT a PvP game. PvP makes absolutely no sense and unfortunately
sounds to me like Paizo may have been the woman in the white dress being
sold the ketchup popsicle — if you get my meaning.
It’s
a shame, but this is the EXACT reason why it is so critical for game
companies to find competent CEOs and Lead Designers that understand
their product and their market and know the direction to steer the
company and game in question.
CEOs and
Lead Designers need to understand the business and the market they are
in! Being a gamer or fan of the genre with game development skills is
not enough IMHO. Mr. Dancey clearly did not understand the market, not
only for Pathfinder itself, but in general! That much is obvious. The
decision-making with this game was pretty mind-boggling to say the least.
Regardless,
best of luck to everyone there, including Mr. Dancey. While this is a
tough experience for all involved, it is a learning experience
nonetheless.

Jarin
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Jarin

Wakkander Crow God Tridus Even a WoW-clone would be truer to the Pathfinder name than this… thing.

Theo454
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Theo454

Tridus MarkHanson1 SirZac  “You’d think the CEO of Paizo would know better.”
Well, maybe you should send her an e-mail and tell her that? Maybe she was fooled or mislead by the lead developer.

Feydakin
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Feydakin

Don/t like Kickstarer, or the game, doesn’t matter, it’s still sad when things like this happen in our industry…

karmamule
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karmamule

SirZac Listening to her is a good reminder of the *people* behind games like this. No matter how much we may dislike a game or disagree with decisions made, there’s lots of heart and emotion behind even problematic games like this. We all intellectually know this of course, but to directly hear the emotion is a direct way to have the point hit home. However much I’m unimpressed with the game for me personally I really wish it could have succeeded.  Best of luck to anyone who’s left and anyone still there and struggling.

PizzaDoh
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PizzaDoh

shadowblender Because “releasing” the game more than they did would do much more harm than good being that it was a clunky mess.

Bojan1975
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Bojan1975

Downloaded trial.
Entered game.
Lagy, clunky mess.
Deinstall.
I blame my ATDS, low budget computer and good taste.

Wakkander
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Wakkander

Crow God Tridus While pathfinder doesn’t have the cultural cache that D&D does, it has been a market leader for years. With that license you have the potential for a built in audience that can rally others to it. The problem with PFO is that it was developed with practically no consideration for the audience that license draws and maintains, which despite the confused musing of some massively staff, is entirely without a PvP element. It would be difficult to create a MMO design that was more antithetical to the core game the license is based on.
You may as well try and market a single player 4x strategy game based on Unreal Tournament and then wonder why few of the UT players and fans are getting behind the idea.

A game that built upon the foundations of the actual game however, then there is some potential for a built in audience and a chance for some good word of mouth. A small and loyal fan base that you can use as a springboard for a wider mmo audience. After all much of what is a part of the table top game  would appeal to many of the modern mmo audiences.

The sad thing is after this experience it wouldn’t shock me that if a new mmo is ever licensed for pathfinder, they will be gun shy and fall into the same old trap of ‘well, that didn’t work, better clone wow.’

KryptonianGL
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KryptonianGL

Tridus MarkHanson1 SirZac This times a million!

It is hard to feel sorry for them when they went completely against the grain, in an opposing direction of what they’ve worked so hard to build in their tabletop game.

I love Pathfinder tabletop. It’s a hell of a lot of fun if played with a competent DM. However, Pathfinder Online is FAR from Pathfinder tabletop, therefore, the IP is completely wasted IMHO!

You said it perfectly Tridus, Pathfinder tabletop is a cooperative PVE game, NOT a PVP game. It makes absolutely no sense and unfortunately sounds to me like Paizo may have been the woman in the white dress being sold the ketchup popsicle — if you get my meaning.

It’s a shame, but this is the EXACT reason why it is so critical for game companies to find competent CEOs and Lead Designers that understand their product and their market and know the direction to steer the company and game in question.

CEOs and Lead Designers need to understand the business and the market they are in! Being a gamer or fan of the genre with game development skills is not enough IMHO. Mr. Dancey clearly did not understand the market, not only for Pathfinder itself, but in general! That much is obvious. The decision-making with this game was pretty mind-boggling.

Regardless, best of luck to everyone there, including Mr. Dancey. While this is a tough experience for all involved, it is a learning experience nonetheless.

Crow God
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Crow God

Tridus Crow God I’m just saying, best to keep the Pathfinder Online title off it so some day down the road they could make a good Pathfinder Online game (that actually has to do with the Pathfinder Society).

Tridus
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Tridus

MarkHanson1 SirZac That would have at least been in line with Pathfinder’s market.

Taking a cooperative PvE brand and deciding to make a PvP sandbox MMO out of it? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. You’d think the CEO of Paizo would know better.

Tridus
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Tridus

Crow God Well, with Shadowrun, the Shadowrun fanbase actively turned against it and went out spreading the bad word. Plus, it had a PC launch that required a subscription fee to play multiplayer, and required Vista. That was hopelessly stupid.
In this case, most of the Pathfinder audience has never even heard of Pathfinder Online, and the game has little to nothing to do with Pathfinder. So I agree the name isn’t worth much, but without it you literally have a half-baked random PvP sandbox MMO.
That isn’t worth anything given the cost required to get it to market.

Valcan321
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Valcan321

Stormwaltz Woot, of those I have 3 (TUG, GORGON, PE) and they are still up. Choose better you must.

Though I have the stomping land and wind born in my line up :(

Tizmah1
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Tizmah1

rioinsignia masonweaver I can attest to this.  Many start ups for games don’t have business sense at all.  Maybe they have to big of dreams, I dunno.

MarkHanson1
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MarkHanson1

SirZac I do feel bad for her and the people who lost their jobs, but at the same time this idea just sounded so wrongheaded. I know back when it was announced, the ” in” thing to do was announce a pvp sandbox type of mmo. If they had done more like what Project Gorgon is doing, make a co-operative pve mmo I think things might have gone better.

Ironwu
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Ironwu

Scratch one Unity Engine game.

Amazing Aluminum Man
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Amazing Aluminum Man

SoMuchMass It’s odd that 2 weeks went by without this becoming news on its own

Com_Raven
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Com_Raven

Armsbend masonweaver I think you – and many others here – are conveniently ignoring that despite a few flops causing controversies, many of the finest PC games of recent years came from Kickstarter. Banner Saga, Shadowrun Returns series, Divinity, Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity etc are all amazing games.

So yes, there are Kickstarters that don’t work out (many of which should never have been funded n the first place, based on their naive pitches or teams), but there are also fantastic examples of the system working well.

pfofirefighter
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pfofirefighter

shadowblender They actually DID launch with a box fee, a sub and a cash shop.  That’s why they crashed so hard.  If you are going to go for the trifecta of fee structures you better have a damn good product.

Crow God
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Crow God

shadowblender Go play the 15 day free trial and find out for yourself.

Crow God
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Crow God

Tridus If it’s not worth anything without the Pathfinder name than it’s not worth anything WITH the Pathfinder name. How many game publishers do you think have even heard of Pathfinder. If it’s not D&D chances are that anyone outside of the table-top rpg community has never heard of it. Want a good example look at that Microsoft FPS branded with the ShadowRun name, how popular was that game?

Tridus
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Tridus

They already kind of did. It’s an early access game with a subscription. That’s what is keeping the lights on at all.
Of course, the market for an early access subscription game is pretty tiny.

Tridus
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Tridus

Without the Pathfinder name, this game has no value whatsoever. Nobody would pay a dollar for it, considering the cost to bring it to market.

shadowblender
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shadowblender

Why don’t they just launch the INCOMPLETE game they have now and make money?

Since making money out of imcomplete games is a thing. Well, was a thing in the past too.

blomma
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blomma

Hackholm Stormwaltz Project Gorgon was already ongoing and making progress before the kickstarter, the kickstarter was as i recall to create better art assets. That they had a realistic goal with their kickstarter and the fact that you could log into the game and try it out made me back it.

Metadirective
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Metadirective

Maybe failure would be less of a problem if there was an engagement from the author to release what was produced with backers money (story, art, code…) at least to backers and even better open sourcing.

Winterskorn
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Winterskorn

Tridus Ya I’m probably purchasing it just to peruse it as have no one in the area (that I know) who games.

ItsatrapLOL
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ItsatrapLOL

SirZac it sucks super hard that this happened and she’s obviously completely obliterated over it, but … and this is gonna sound harsh … Pathfinder Online looked like a complete mess.  i never played it, because the Youtube vids always painted such an awful picture of the gameplay.  i wanted to check it out, but jesus it looks so awful.

Crow God
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Crow God

Oh. Also, if Paizo sells off the project to be finished by another developer, they should make sure that Pathfinder brand is not part of the deal. A Pathfinder MMO is still a good idea, if done right, this game isn’t that.

Crow God
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Crow God

Eh. Game is too much of a niche game. Felt like they were trying to capture that old school MMO feel complete with hardcore PVP mechanics. Kind of weird for Pathfinder which has an anti-PVP stance when it comes to their living campaign.

PaganRites
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PaganRites

Detton salidar Stormwaltz Shroud of the Avatar has zero chance of failure.  Game is in great shape imo.  I am also highly confident that Camelot Unchained will be a success.  Same for Crowfall.

PaganRites
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PaganRites

Scarecrowe Layoffs always suck.  But, there’s huge huge demand for game devs, coders, artists, etc.  Mark Jacobs has had trouble trying to fill positions for a year now.  They may have to relocate, but there are jobs out there that need filling.

Armsman
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Armsman

deekay_zero They’re going to KKS because (aside from whatever portion KS takes), it’s ‘free money’ (IE no loan interest to pay back, and no big money investors breathing down your neck about the fact you legally promised them X% ROI within X years, and they damn well better get their money.
^^^^
That’s what KS offers developers, but again, the sword edge there is you better have a business plan that you can both manage and fulfill; and you also better have good records on where the money went if the project fails, or you’ll be dodging civil lawsuits for years to come.

With most MMOs it takes 3 -5 years for the Dev company to make back what it invested and start turning a profit. If you can mostly pay for that development via KS – and THEN have a decent launch and good word of mouth that brings in new players, you start earning profit (as well as funds to continue expansion of the game – best case) almost immediately by comparison.

pfofirefighter
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pfofirefighter

So she’s having another meeting on Weds Sept 8th… is that some kind of puzzle we need to figure out?

SirZac
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SirZac

Lisa Stevens addresses the community over the lay-offs. Grab your tissues, this is heartbreaking. https://soundcloud.com/duffy-swiftshadow/keepside-chat-with-lisa-stevens-9215

FlyinDutchman
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FlyinDutchman

Stormwaltz

I’m 2 for 3 so far

Camelot Unchained 
CrowFall
and NovusAeterno

Two making decent Progress. 

1 Ran our of money and is now vaporware

Hackholm
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Hackholm

Scarecrowe Hackholm Stormwaltz Ha, no shit? Work has been nuts for the last month, so no surprise I missed it. Probably won’t get to play it for another 2 weeks or so until things settle down anyway.

Thanks for the heads up!

Scarecrowe
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Scarecrowe

Hackholm Stormwaltz

Shadowrun: Hong Kong… released two weeks ago. Just a FYI. :)

Scarecrowe
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Scarecrowe

It’s a shame that folks lost their jobs, especially in this market.  However, the game was excrement and I’ll never get that 20+ hours back. It’s going to take a lot more than 1-2 million dollars to make a fun game out of that hot mess.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

deekay_zero SallyBowls1 Siphaed  I actually meant as the dev.  If you were CR would you rather owe EA $83M in stock/loans or have the internet give you $83M.  Only if I couldn’t find enough people to give me free money would I look to those boorish corporations that want financial returns.

wpDiscuz