WildStar's lead writer is gone too

Over the weekend, former WildStar Product Director Mike Donatelli and Design Director Chris Behrens announced on Twitter that their last day working for Carbine on WildStar had come. Now we've learned that Lead Writer Cory Herndon is gone too.

While it's tempting to assume that last week's devastating financial report is to blame, Carbine told Massively OP last weekend that the departures are part of the layoffs that occurred back in March and that the employees just now leaving had stayed on to finish up specific projects -- which we might conclude means the impending Steam launch.

"On March 11, Carbine Studios conducted a reorganization and staff reduction. While almost all of the staff cuts were effective immediately, a handful of the people impacted were asked to remain at Carbine for a few additional weeks in order to complete key projects. Today, the Carbine team remains hard at work on a number of upcoming game and content updates for WildStar."

Source: Twitter via Reddit
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179 Comments on "WildStar's lead writer is gone too"

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Nanulak
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Nanulak

I really liked alot of things about this game with one exception.  The combat was not my cup of tea.  If they tried a FF like redo and rework the combat [less twitchy]I think It may have a better chance.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Ironwu SallyBowls1  I guess I agree. OTOH, who knows if the people making the decisions now are the same as then. TBH, if you had shown a CoH alumnus the actual WS numbers prior to launch my guess is most would have predicted a shut down before now.  IMO, no China was the death knell for WS.  So if they were going to pull the plug, that would have seemed liked the logical time to do it.  But they didn't, so I don't expect anything real soon. After Steam, ....

Styopa
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Styopa

dragonwhimsy ElMutharino breetoplay Styopa SoMuchMass Syco_at_Twitch I think BnS's next QUARTER numbers are going to take a tumble - they took a beating in players when BD came out, and (IMO) while BnS is flashy, it's ultimately a very shallow game.  I don't think it would have legs in any context.

ZenDadaist
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ZenDadaist

Well it -is- part of the devastating finanical report. They knew what was going to be in that report long before it was released! With letting go of their highest paid staff, bringing the soundtrack to market etc - they're seeing if they can get any sort of positive income out of the game before it's properly closed. It's patently clear they are no longer going to be investing anything more into it.

dragonwhimsy
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dragonwhimsy

ElMutharino breetoplay Styopa SoMuchMass Syco_at_Twitch GW2's numbers are pretty close to B&S's numbers. And GW2's china sales aren't even reflected there. And B&S's numbers in the west will decrease once they've caught up with all the content. Western audiences still think B&S has a fast content cadence, they are wrong. Once they are caught up with the eastern version of the game they will realize that.

B&S will do great this year. And that'll get enough people deeply invested enough that B&S will be relevant for a long time to come. But this time next year it won't be doing any better than GW2.

dragonwhimsy
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dragonwhimsy

JudgeDavid101 ElMutharino GW2 is in absolutely in no danger with those numbers. The person you are responding to is highly ignorant. If Aion is in no danger how could GW2 be in any?

GW2 is doing really well, especially when you consider it does what it does without a famous IP and with no console versions (something that gives big boosts to FFXIV, Neverwinter, and ESO).

Yes HoT's wasn't as successful as they hoped, but it was still successful. GW2 is still one of their top performers.

dragonwhimsy
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dragonwhimsy

ElMutharino GW2 isn't next, it's one of the most successful western MMO's. The earnings report does say that HoT's box sales weren't as high as they hoped, but that gem sales are strong. It also doesn't show China sales of GW2 while B&S shows both eastern and western sales. 

GW2 is still doing really well and the misjudgments they made with HoT's were mostly corrected in the April patch (the people working on the next expansion were even taken off of that for two months to make HoT's map changes so that the people working on the next expansion would be the ones learning the needed lessons).

HoT's kept the audience it already had entertained the last few months and that audience was already large by western MMO standards (excluding WoW), it's failure was in not luring the massive amount of people back it had lost over the years. That is unfortunate but it DID lay a strong foundation of systems, features, and progression that those people will enjoy when ANet releases a more content rich expansion in the future, modified by all the lessons they learned by HoT's reception. 

And say what you will about HoT's, it's long term enhancements of GW2 will be felt long after Heavensward and Legion content is obsolete and forgotten.

BryanCo
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BryanCo

Syco_at_Twitch xania  I think it more likely that the Steam launch won't ever actually happen.

BryanCo
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BryanCo

SallyBowls1  NCSoft's history indicates that being 'just a small loss overall' is not going to save Wildstar.  Sentimentality is not something the company is known for.

StClair
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StClair

Cambruin StClair It's the kind of laugh that's accompanied by a drawn-out, sympathetic "fuuuuu--"

Ironwu
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Ironwu

SallyBowls1
The people at NCSoft do not think they way you describe.
Proof?  City of Heroes.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Carbine's life span may or may not surprise you.
If the 70 people laid off were 40%, then that leaves about a hundred, which is expenses of 10-15M per year so losing 6-10M per year.  This is clearly not good and shall not go on forever.
But, by now, predictions are also about executive personality.  If Wildstar were owned by Funcom, it would already be shut down.  Not because Funcom is a worse studio, they just don't have the financial resources. NCSoft did 838BKWon last year.  Carbine is costing NCSoft about 1% of their revenue. It would not be a catastrophe if NCSoft did that for the next decade. OTOH, if they closed it tomorrow, I don't think many business people would be that surprised; Wildstar was not a success so far.  Perhaps, predicting Wildstar's future is not so much about ROI and NPV and more about a charity exists as long as a benefactor continues to fund.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Midgetsnowman Estranged breetoplay I doubt many players ever reached max level to even worry about the whole raiding thing anyways. Leveling in that game just felt like a huge chore.

Janio2
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Janio2

breetoplay Maybe they are using this as there first project to start delevering mmo's via steam.
I think box sales of mmo are real on there way out. Except for wow maybe.

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace

Karl_Hungus  Love that movie.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

skoryy SallyBowls1 breetoplay Midgetsnowman You do realize that NCSoft Q4 earnings statement mentioned their increase in spending on baseball players salaries. It looks to me that baseball increase was larger than the annual salary of the 70 laid off Carbine workers. It is a small part of NCSoft but they are more than just games, I think there is some financial software involved as well. 

And they explicitly said in they would be reducing the dev resources being spent on PC to further increase the resources spent on mobile.  So sure, we all expect NCSoft to be making PC MMOs for the foreseeable future, it is clearly a declining % of their business and that is by design.

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace
Cambruin
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Cambruin

StClair Why? There's nothing funny about it. I really disliked this game, especially the very linear questing and horrible world design/graphical presentation. But it's still a game loved by a number -however small- players and an income for a number of people.

This developer, much like TheyBreak, is clearly taking big hits on all possible fronts. Unlike the latter however, they had every intent to create a quality game which focused on mechanics and content. They're just as out of touch as Daybreak, but at least this developer seemed to have it's heart in the right place.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

breetoplay SallyBowls1 SoMuchMass Syco_at_Twitch ElMutharino IMO, you are correct; Anet is in fine shape, not the best in the NCSoft portfolio but not the worst.

But the pendant in me is always frustrated at your defenses:  quick back of envelope estimate is a couple of people leave Anet per week.  So if Anet loses 2.0 and hires 1.9 people a week then it is both hiring a lot and shrinking. (My guess is they are net growing slightly or at worst flat.) I.e. Hiring != growing.  And your refrain "NCSoft is expanding in the West" is a true quote.  But so many on this site erroneously assume NCSoft (and Activision-Blizzard and Square Enix...) are PC MMO companies and thus somehow assume Western expansion is related to PC MMOs.

Syco_at_Twitch
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Syco_at_Twitch

xania Steam won't do what you want it to do lol

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Midgetsnowman Leilonii woolydub When the military has everyone from lawyers and engineers to snipers and truck drivers, figure there's a good mix of dudes and bros from both ends of the spectrum and neither. The people on a base are rarely from the area around it anyway. The focus of the base determines more than anything.

skoryy
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skoryy

breetoplay SallyBowls1 SoMuchMass Syco_at_Twitch ElMutharino So is Cryptic. Yet we still got cries of STO doom even using the console expansion as evidence.

Internet contrarian-ism is a helluva drug.

skoryy
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skoryy

SallyBowls1 breetoplay Midgetsnowman To borrow a quote I read today: "We aren’t in some chaos world of infinite possibilities." Sure, NCSoft can shut all its games down and open up a chain of broasted chicken stores. But the real world says its a pretty safe bet they'll continue to make bank off of MMOs.

skoryy
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skoryy

ElMutharino breetoplay Styopa SoMuchMass Syco_at_Twitch Anet isn't going to reverse anything without another expansion money bomb. Its the way these things go.

That said, the litany of major changes from last month pretty much show Anet identified a lot of what went wrong and that they're willing to backtrack on themselves to fix it.

StClair
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StClair

At this point, all I can do is laugh helplessly.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

breetoplay Serrenity Demonsdown This. I mean, I want it to succeed, but  every time I try to give it a chance..it just..well, it isnt as fun as warcraft or ff14 to me, so i always go back home.

Ironwu
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Ironwu
ElMutharino
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ElMutharino

breetoplay Styopa SoMuchMass Syco_at_Twitch ElMutharino I didn't say WS and GW2 are in the same boat, I just said that after reading the reports, having a 'down' quarter after publishing a major expac is a very bad sign for shareholders. If after summer the trend isn't reversed we might see some reorganizations or 'promotions', that's all I am saying. For now at least. With the steam release and the protobuck initiative, I think they might actually sell or release Carbine. These cuts they are making now are likely to lower the operational costs.

Then NCS will have only 2 major games in the west: GW2 and B&S.

Dope_Danny
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Dope_Danny

-Steamlaunch.png

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Serrenity Demonsdown We report on the good stuff too. All the Arcterra stuff was good news. People just don't care nearly as much about it. :/

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Styopa breetoplay SoMuchMass Syco_at_Twitch ElMutharino Sure, on a long enough timescale, every single online game is slowly bleeding to death, with the sole exception of Lineage I, which will still be inexplicably making money when we're all dead.
It's acting as if it's in nearly as much trouble as WildStar that makes absolutely zero sense in context.
And none of that is to say that Anet didn't fuck up with HoT. It did. No surprise to our readers I'm sure.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

SallyBowls1 breetoplay SoMuchMass Syco_at_Twitch ElMutharino Nope no cuts in Anet. ArenaNet is hiring.

ElMutharino
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ElMutharino

SallyBowls1 Latorn Seems no one bothers reading the earnings docs

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Latorn  Anet is going to keep on trucking.  However, with the last two NCSoft earnings calls having comments from NCSoft criticising HOT's performance, I certainly disagree with the every in "but every indicator points towards it being healthy"

ElMutharino
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ElMutharino

Rozyn ElMutharino Greaterdivinity No, what I meant is people are saying WS is dead because the game has been in deep shit since week 2 from launch. People who were saying the same months ago and that say the same about EVERY game about 2-3 months after launch, yeah those are the kind of cunt you are describing.

rottenrotny
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rottenrotny

Doom doom DOOOOOOOOM.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

breetoplay SoMuchMass Syco_at_Twitch ElMutharino  Yeah, but do any of the NCSoft comments talk about increasing PC or MMO revenue in the West? Of course, NCSoft is investing a lot in Iron Tiger.  ANet is probably not a Star but is certainly not a Dog. I.e., I don't see drastic or perhaps even any cuts in ANet but I don't see it being regarded as strategic as B&S and MXM.
[made up numbers for example!] If NCsoft said the West is very important and they were going to increase dev spending in the West by $80M and later said they were spending $100M on a western mobile studio, where do you think the extra $20M is coming from. (trick question, today it would be carbine. tomorrow ...)

ElMutharino
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ElMutharino

I haven't made any bombastic claim bout GW2, O just said their numbers don't look so healthy and even less after B&S launch. I think the expansion was its last chance at attracting back lapsed players and it didn't work

johnmynard
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johnmynard

Karl_Hungus playerxx STO says hi.

Serrenity
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Serrenity

Demonsdown  The sad part of this is -- I think a lot of people think like this.  or they had about the bad launch and automatically wrote it off.  The game itself is fun and it honestly has a lot going for it.  I played at beta and thought "meh". I played at launch for a few months before I hit the "meh" stage.  And I played for a few weeks at the F2P launch.  I enjoyed my time there every time, but I felt it got very rote. But that doesn't mean it's a bad game or that it doesn't have a LOT going for it.

ElMutharino
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ElMutharino

I am actually saying the opposite...

libertylion7
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libertylion7

I wanted to like this game.  I tried, but I couldn't get very far into it.  The world just made my eyes hurt.  All the bouncing around jumping for coin like objects was too much for me.  Hopefully as this game sunsets it will make room for something better.

bryanjturner
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bryanjturner

Why does GW2 earn well for NCSoft on their quarterly reports, perhaps GW2 production would have been better if NCSoft had invested more in GW2 instead of Wildstartanic

Rozyn
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Rozyn

ElMutharino Rozyn Greaterdivinity GD's comment was on your GW2 statement, not WS. Although yes, people have wanted WS to fail since it was in Beta because its mere existence offended their delicate sensibilities - they didn't cause its failure of course, but they're quite gleeful about it happening.

Styopa
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Styopa

breetoplay SoMuchMass Syco_at_Twitch ElMutharino Sorry, I beg to disagree.
I read the report, and page 4 really sets the scene: WS is hemorrhaging, GW2 is still bleeding to death but slower, while the rest of the properties are doing ok (for broad enough tolerances of "ok" for the lineage games).

WS is *done* while GW2 has some life left in it (since they're clearly willing to tolerate lower overall numbers for other games, but the GW2 vector is unhealthy, particularly after a big hopeful release).

Serrenity
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Serrenity

ElMutharino Rozyn Greaterdivinity  No, Rozyn was saying that some people like to dance around on the (supposed) graves of some games for pure joy of it, regardless of any logic or any amount of uncertainty (either direction in the future).  People who make bombastic claims about the game being dead already and the developers should just give up are not happy people to be around. Instead of focusing on the change they might succeed or that there are a lot of variables that are still unknown about the future of game is a far more productive way to look at it.

borghive
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borghive

jeremy2020 Karl_Hungus Cartap breetoplay Estranged I can't wait until they release legacy servers and all these naysayers are going to have to eat crow! I'm tired people spouting off costs of this and that, unless you can prove to me you actually work in the business, or you work for Blizzard directly, and have some actual hard numbers, this is all speculation.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Armsbend Xyggy  ? I could easily be wrong but thought NCsoft was on a fiscal year ending in March (with calendar headcount budgeting) so Jul, Aug, Sept is Q2?

Serrenity
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Serrenity

ElMutharino Latorn  how do you know that the ops cost of running GW2 is just a fraction of the operating costs of all other NCSoft games combined?  That makes literally no sense.

ElMutharino
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ElMutharino

Rozyn Greaterdivinity ElMutharino So people who are saying that WS is going to close do it because.. they hate the game. Right

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