Turbine layoffs confirmed: Turbine is transitioning into a 'mobile' dev studio

We've updated the end of this post with Warner Bros.' statement to us.
It sounds as if Turbine may have been hit with another round of layoffs. Former Community Manager Rick "Sapience" Heaton tweeted this cryptic message alluding to bad news for the MMO teams:

There's a bit more on Facebook:

heaton

We've reached out to Turbine for more. Everyone affected has our deepest sympathies.

Source: Twitter. Cheers, Amorey.
Update: Warner Bros. PR has issued the following statement to Massively OP:

"Turbine is transitioning into a free-to-play, mobile development studio, and as a result we are eliminating some positions. The Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons online games will continue to operate as they do now. Re-focusing and reducing the studio size was a difficult decision for the company, and we are grateful to all of the Turbine staff for their considerable contributions."

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227 comments
MrEllis
MrEllis

Mobile is the new console.

BringDaAmblamps
BringDaAmblamps

Mobile development studio?  Don't you just need a bedroom in your moms house for mobile game development?

Daeborn
Daeborn

"reducing the studio size was a difficult decision for the company"

Sure boss, sure.

 

Humble48
Humble48

Mobile games are pretty much garbage. This is horrible news on many fronts. Sad to hear about the loss of jobs. That really sucks. Mobile games suck. LoTRO and DDO are definitely good games, but they honestly need a bit of a rework on the game mechanics. It's just needs to be updated. They don't even need to update the graphics that much except for maybe character models. The worlds look good even to this day.

MEGALUS
MEGALUS

@Humble48 The last thing we need is for DDO and LotRO to become MOBAs.  We've already lost half of our skills and most of our skills are spec specific now.  Rune-keepers look like a WoW class at this point.  Anymore "improvements" and LotRo will become their first mobile game.  They've already turned everything into a cash grab.

Humble48
Humble48

@MEGALUS @Humble48 It's not that I want the skills reduced as much as it would be nice for the action to seem a little less clunky in LoTRO. In comparison to other games, I feel it's a bit laggy and too many of the skills are channeling types. It would be ideal to have more instant with a cooldown vs the charge up, that also has a cooldown. 

nameistake12
nameistake12

Lately, Turbine reminds me of the buddy who is always losing at the stock market because they buy high and sell low.  In Turbine's case, they jump on the bandwagon (Infinite Crisis MOBA and now Whatever Mobile Gaming) at the exact moment the bandwagon busts an axle because of the weight it is carrying.


You know who makes the money?  Innovators, not copy-cats.

PaulineDemetry
PaulineDemetry

Going to say I wont miss turbine and some of its employees. Sucks that some and in the end most will lose their jobs but there are 7 billion folks on this planet and folks will always have jobs, its just the way things are.


That typed I also hope LOTR shuts down like a few others have stated because it has been mishandled from day 1.

MewmewGirl
MewmewGirl

Mobile gaming is actually going through a time where too many clones and low quality titles are being rushed out and it's spoiling the market.  It's actually very close to what I was just reading happened with the Video Game Crash of the early 80's.  I was just reading some articles about that and it reminded me exactly of what was happening in Mobile gaming right now.  


So I don't think it will be the gold mine they are imagining it is.  It's still popular and we're at a need for quality MMORPGs there but not everybody is able to make it on mobile either.  They often blame Mobile itself rather than their own lack of understanding of the differences of tastes and players there.


If Turbine does decide to totally shut down PC operations, I hope that someone picks up their MMORPG games.  It would be a shame for them to completely go away.

Wakkander
Wakkander

@MewmewGirl There is one big difference though, and that is smartphones aren't going anywhere. Games or not people will still buy smartphones, unlike with the videogame crash where people stopped buying the consoles. As such there is always going to be a market there until smartphones are replaced by whatever comes next. While the flood of terrible games continues unabated, it hasn't stopped the big hits from being made, even if the gameplay is often very limited. The rewards are also much greater relative to investment, and it only takes one hit to easily cover the cost of numerous failed or less successful titles and then some.

A big AAA mmo can easily cost into the hundreds of millions on the high end (Think of swtor's rumored 500 million budget), whereas a mobile game might cost into the hundreds of thousands on the high end (even into the low millions in rare instances). Clash of Clans developer Supercell raked in a cool 2.3 billion in revenue last year, off a game with a estimated budget of 250k (reports I could find varied in their estimates, but 250k tended towards the high end). With about 900 million of that as pure profit, you could make over three thousand failed games at the same budget and still make a tidy profit off the one hit. Not to mention that mobile games are projected to make more than the PC market or console market this year.

It is easy to dismiss mobile, or spell out Turbines doom as a result, but there are reasons many developers are being swayed in that direction.

Ald
Ald

I say this as eloquently as possible - fuck mobile gaming.

MystikkTales
MystikkTales

This is a shame as it reminds me of Funcom going into mobile gaming a while back. Fortunately, AO is still chugging along with a little love thrown at it every now and then, somewhat thanks to the new deal struck a while back to pump more money into the studio. Hopefully Turbine will realize this isn't a good direction to head in and turn back before it's too late.

MilitiaMasterV
MilitiaMasterV

Darn. Sorry to hear that. I was just chatting with someone on FFXIV yesterday about LOTRO and some of my memories from over there.


I mentioned the Warden/Captain yelling, and we spent about half an hour searching the internet for Youtube videos so they could hear what it sounded like. Oh the cacophony when you got like 3 or more of them going at once...

They were actually intrigued and I'd been talking it up enough that they might've given it a chance someday...

I wish I could go back, but after making like x15 characters and running numerous of them up, I wouldn't know which to hop on again, much less be comfortable jumping back in like that. Also, I burned myself out after 9 months of a paid year doing all the crafting guilds at once/all the numerous holiday events for every character/trying to outfit a house.

Did have some lovely memories of the community, and some not so lovely memories of certain features/people.


I hope that going to a mobile studio doesn't mean you're basically going to stop updating it. Even if I don't play anymore, there's still people who might become interested some day...

jeremy2020
jeremy2020

The f2p gold rush is ended and the new mobile gold rush has begun. It won't be long before we start to all these studios heralding mobile start to find out there's a limited pot of gold at the end of that rainbow too. If you're the last one there...better not hope for too much.

MystikkTales
MystikkTales

@jeremy2020 The trend in gambling for skins is also on the rise as we've seen with the CSGO debacle.

findMMO
findMMO

@jeremy2020 I just hope soft.house will finall turn to user-created-content/sandbox.

They might just give a base world, the engine, n00b-user-proof tools...and servers.

buy2play for basic tools, and a small fee for server/debugging costs.


then leave people free to create and balance content on their own.

Telos_
Telos_

As much as i don't want anyone to lose their jobs, i would love if Lotro finally shut down, and hopefully, it would free up the license to another studio.  I wish this would happen with Star Wars too.

Denice J Cook
Denice J Cook

Whoa!  Yikes!  It *is* true then!


Interesting, that guy Rich Heaton lives in the same town I do of all things, lol.  You don't see that one too often!  Turbine is only about 45 minutes away from me I think.  This is terrible, and I hope like heck all those who lost positions can be absorbed into the gaming infrastructure somewhere else ASAP.


So I take it LoTRO and DDO are going to be running largely in maintenance mode going forward then?  Well, it's better than shuttering them.  Didn't Turbine just renew LoTRO's license for 5 more years last fall or so?


tobascodagama
tobascodagama

@Denice J Cook They renewed the licence up through Fall 2017. I'm sure the game will keep running for at least that long, and I'm also sure we'll see U19 with some North Ithilien/Black Gate/Moria stuff to tie up the book story. What happens beyond that, though... Nobody knows.

Coffee, Please
Coffee, Please

That's really sad to see. I hope that the employees had some kind of warning, or at least signs that things were headed in this direction so that they could prepare. There are very real lives being effected by this.

As far as mobile gaming is concerned, there's a lot of denial about that. I wouldn't be surprised if I get a lot of angry or otherwise passionate responses, but mobile is the future. That's where the huge numbers are. That's where the big money is to be had. It's also much less expensive to develop for mobile platforms, although that's only temporary until mobile devices become more powerful.

Not to say that PC or console gaming will ever vanish entirely, obviously. We have VR, powerful systems, and not an insignificant user base, but we are definitely the niche.

Ket_Viliano
Ket_Viliano

@Coffee, Please  Mobile games cost less to code, because the limited input possibilities and short term episodic 'casual' play style greatly limit the scope of gameplay.

As for promotion, mobile user cost acquisition keeps going up, it is very costly to get a new customer. The only advantage Turbine has is WB itself. A Bugs Bunny game, with the right monetization, would grab enough of an audience at a low enough cost, that it could make very good money. There is no way the same gameplay would get a decent audience at an affordable price without using a well known 'IP'.


The way things work in mobile, is that there are millions of games, and one of those games makes millions of dollars. The rest go broke.

Coffee, Please
Coffee, Please

@Ket_Viliano @Coffee, Please 

Agreed, they do compete with an ocean of other mobile games. When I mentioned costs I was thinking of visuals, technology, coders and the like, but you make a solid point.

AilsaN10
AilsaN10

Mobile games are fine, it's the thought of any substantive multiplayer game being enjoyable or even feasible on smartphones.

Let me start by addressing a broader related issue: the "cloud". The "cloud" is a great idea but it has resulted in a lot of "putting the cart before the horse". Not everyone is covered by the "cloud" 24/7 and as a result, they must use their carrier's data plan to access the internet which can get costly if they exceed their limit.

One of my biggest pet peeves is Apple's discontinuation of the iPod Classic in favor of devices with much less storage. Their rationale is that music will be stored in the "cloud" and people will just stream it on demand. This is fine if you have access to wifi 24/7 and if you're favorite songs are all found on Billboard's top 100. But if you like music by indie artists who self-publish their songs, good luck with that if you use Apple Music (and don't trust them with any of your original work, FYI). However, the bigger issue is not having wifi access all the time. At least if you could store the music locally on your device, it wouldn't matter if you had no internet.

Getting back to games, though. I just don't see a game like Skyrim being possible, let alone enjoyable, on a mobile device. I just do not see how anyone could enjoy playing FFXIV on a smartphone. The kind of games that work well on mobile devices are extremely pared-down and shallow compared to what is possible on a desktop PC or even a console.

NebHatesYou
NebHatesYou

Given the general decline of the MMO market this kind of thing is probably going to become very normal.


C'est la vie

dragoon0705
dragoon0705

This was always the next step in the free to play Genre.

Perfect Hero
Perfect Hero

They haven't done anything new in years. This was inevitable.

Ket_Viliano
Ket_Viliano

...Community Manager Cordovan posted something something ... Livefyre dragon eats the words right before my eyes.

breetoplay
breetoplay moderator

We've reached out to WB for more clarification on the fate of AC1/2 and whether DDO/LOTRO will be maintenance-moded or still have the staff for updates since "operate as they do now" is a bit ambiguous. Will keep you guys posted.

:(

HBD
HBD

@Amorey @breetoplay He has also posted in the DDO forums. Unfortunately he has remained silent in the AC forums.

Wakkander
Wakkander

@breetoplay Oh man, I bet WB didn't even know they had AC1/2 running in a corner somewhere. You've tipped them off and doomed them! =p

Loopstah
Loopstah

I wonder if there are any Turbine fans out there that are actually positively reacting to these news. Or any gamers in general. What a silly business decision to make.

Ket_Viliano
Ket_Viliano

@Loopstah  The strange thing comes from the fact that mobile studios are totally unlike mmo studios. Mobile is relentlessly data driven, the numbers dictate the design changes, and the results are tracked on a daily basis. A player interaction or story driven game needs to be run in a different manner than that, as the audience plays for longer periods of time, and as a consequence has a longer attention span and greater investment in the game.

There is simply no advantage to transitioning a mmo studio to mobile, as the only personnel who cross over are the management and the guys who do the cash shop. TBH, on reflection, that sort of explains things.

Inoxe
Inoxe

@Ket_Viliano @Loopstah   You are correct. It is quite likely that the mobile games will not be successful simply because WB tried to "do the right thing" and transition the surviving Turbine staff to mobile. While Turbine staff may PLAY mobile games, their development organization almost certainly cannot transition to mobile principles. Changing an organization is even harder than changing its staff. Therefore, the chances of Turbine turning out Supercell or King style hits is virtually zero. That's why EA ends up shutting down struggling studios. It's also why established companies often struggle in new business environments (such as IBM in the age of the PC, or HP in the age of mobile).

Even if I was one of the survivors at Turbine, I'd be looking for a new job. The chances of Turbine being successful enough to remain functioning are extremely poor. 

mysecretid
mysecretid

@Inoxe 

You make a very good point. 

It's not that there isn't still big money to be made in mobile game creation, it's whether Turbine can reasonably expect to get a sufficient piece of that big money by attempting to transition into mobile game creation at this point.

Cheers,



DrZaius
DrZaius

...DD the card game or Heroes of Middle Earth....the card game


keep chasing that tail Turbine

tobascodagama
tobascodagama

This is somebody's tasteless April Fool's joke that somehow got posted a few months late, right? Right?

Sigh.

I mean, this isn't the worst thing to happen this week. It's not even the worst thing to happen *yesterday*. But it's still garbage, and I hate it.

melissaheather
melissaheather

"And now you tell me that Turbine is going F2P and Mobile.  Our list of allies grows thin."
"It is to South Korea that we must place our hope."
"Korea... (twitchy face)... Korean MMOs are weak. I was there, Gandalf.   Two thousand hours ago.  I was there when the strength of Korean MMOs failed.   The Ghillie Suit..."


Beacon
Beacon

@wjowski @melissaheather I don't understand all the hate for Korean MMOs and Asian MMOs generally. I've been a long-time player of MMOs from both the West and Korea. I like them equally. I used to pay a subscription and run endless damn dungeons in EQ2 trying to RNG the best boss drop gear, now I pay no subscription to BDO to RNG enhancements to my gear. It's not different, to me. Both are very fun. I'm actually really impressed with the current crop of Asian MMOs. BDO, Blade and Soul, Revelation Online, that Monster Hunter game--they all seem like top-tier titles to me.

wjowski
wjowski

@melissaheather 

I don't know what the hell you people think are going to come out of Korea except more RNG driven pay-to-win crap.

Ket_Viliano
Ket_Viliano

@Beacon @wjowski @melissaheather  Those games roll off an assembly line like they were stamped out by a machine. Anyone can pretty much sum up what playing all of them is like, and you have. Online community driven games could be so much more.

mysecretid
mysecretid

@wjowski 


Actually, it was a joke about how some people think Korean games are the answer, but they are generally not. The Ghillie Suit refers to the contentious policy decisions which continue to trouble the ArcheAge game.