GamesIndustry.biz is reporting that Nexon America has undergoing a round of layoffs. The number of affected employees is currently unknown, though a source reportedly told the publication that it may be as many as 20% of the American branch, and Twitter suggests that some of the company’s most front-facing employees – community managers and brand marketers – were hit.
A South Korean Nexon representative says that the restructuring is an attempt to “streamline operations and reset the organisation to pursue a deeper focus on our most promising titles,” claiming that while there were indeed layoffs, “the numbers do not represent any significance to [Nexon’s] overall workforce.” The spokesperson also deflected assumptions that the layoffs are related to the collapse of LawBreakers.
Our sympathies go out to those losing jobs and coworkers this week.
This is, bar none, the column I hate doing most on a regular basis. None of the games I highlight in here is something that I actually like pointing to; they’re games that people like, games that may very well be someone’s absolute favorites, and yet they’re also games where the future looks difficult if not outright bad. A cloudy future is never a good thing, and this particular column does not make it all right.
But we’re still here in the early days of 2018, and that means it’s still the right time to look at the games we might not see around next year. For various reasons, these are the games that already look like they’re in trouble, instead of absolute face-shattering surprises like a couple of the shutdowns last year.
Here’s the good news for Nexon’s Q3 2017 investor call: The company had a good set of third-quarter results overall, and it has a strong lineup of titles in the pipeline, including the long-awaited and largely unrevealed Final Fantasy XI mobile incarnation. Here’s the bad news: LawBreakers was the weak link in its lineup. Not only was it responsible for the majority of the company’s losses during the quarter, but company CTO Shiro Uemura stated that the game would acquire no further losses, meaning that it had functionally been written off altogether.
What does that mean for the future of the game? Nothing positive; companies don’t tend to write off games they plan to continue supporting. Your speculation is welcome, but it should run toward darker possibilities. On the bright side, it looks like the future is bright for Nexon as a whole, so based on player numbers the fate of LawBreakers is not so much cloudy as it is unpleasant.
Also worth noting is that Nexon has merged its Nexon RED and NDOORs subsidiaries, both with a roster of successful games under their belts. The merge is aimed at providing more consolidated and skilled mobile game development.
We’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2018!
August was dominated by several competing stories that just wound throughout the whole month: The Secret World’s TV series venture as produced by Johnny Depp, the full reveal of Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion, and Star Citizen’s multiple delays and demos.
We also saw launches for World of Warcraft’s Argus, Elder Scrolls Online’s Horns of the Reach, Lord of the Rings Online’s Mordor, ARK: Survival Evolved, LawBreakers, Fragmented, and Tree of Life. And if you squint, you can just see the first inklings that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was already taking off.
Read on for the whole list!
LawBreakers just isn’t giving up. In spite of an apparently slumped player population and the exit of one of its founders, the shooter is rolling out a holiday event – evidence of “continued support,” as Nexon puts it.
“Just in time for the holidays, Nexon America revealed that its continued support of the fast-paced, gravity-defying first-person shooter, LawBreakers, includes a festive holiday event through the month of December and into the new year. Players can celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year during the LawBreakers Sleigh the Holidays event which offers fans a limited time discount on the game, double experience (XP) points, and an update to the competitive ranked mode, Boss Leagues.”
The game will be on sale from today into early January on both Steam and the North American region for PS4.
The face of LawBreakers development and Boss Key is arguably Cliff Bleszinski, but Arjan Brussee was co-founder of the studio and half of the brain trust behind the studio as a whole. We use the past-tense there, though, because according to Twitter Brussee is no longer with the studio. He’s announced that he has left and is heading back to Epic Games to work on a “secret project,” with no word on what that might entail.
Of course, that’s what makes it a secret, but you know how it is.
Bleszinski himself has wished Brussee the best of luck on Twitter without any acrimonious undertones. There’s no announcement at this point about who will take over Brussee’s duties at Boss Key. It’s not an entirely unusual move after a studio’s first major release has shipped for people to move on to different careers; we’ll see what this means in the longer term for Boss Key (if anything) in the months to come.
Think of all the wacky things devs have said in public in front of gamers and journalists this year.
Now imagine what gets said behind closed doors!
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to select the best (and worst) developer quotes from the year and reflect on what we’ve learned from them. Let’s dig in – we’ve got some whoppers.
So, how’s life on the good ship LawBreakers? About the same as it was before, although we do now have an eagle-eyed shot of the game’s Steam charts actually registering a flat zero players. Not that its seven-day high is exactly much better.
Here’s the good news for the game: It has a free weekend this weekend, along with a half-price sale running through the end of Tuesday next week. So you can try out the game for yourself and see if it sticks with you; considering the most recent negative reviews on the game have largely concerned the lack of players, it certainly can’t hurt matters.
For those of you who have been following this for a while, you may remember that Cliff Bleszinski’s most recent interview placed the blame on the game’s current state on media outlets and insisted that his team recognizes that the game’s life cycle is a marathon, rather than a sprint. We’ll see if this puts a bit more momentum in the game’s step.
Here at Massively Overpowered, we generally try to avoid cursing, but there really are no two ways to put the Cliff Bleszinski quote from his latest interview on LawBreakers’ post-launch struggles. Let’s provide the whole thing, for context:
[The gaming press is] just looking for clicks, man. They’re just looking for ad revenue. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, and they’re welcome to print whatever they want – but as far as I’m concerned, they can fuck off. We’re going to keep making our game for our fans.
Bleszinski stresses that the game’s struggle is simply to get its concurrent user counts high enough to make matchmaking reliably and enjoyable, with repeated statements that the studio is focused on building the community over time and engaging with them. He also claims that any perception problems are a result of people being overly negative, citing the game’s high number of positive reviews on Steam.
The latest update to LawBreakers is coming out on October 19th, and it uses the phrase “All-Star” a bit too often for anyone who has been on the internet over the past few years. But it also has a brand-new linear tutorial for players fresh to the game, so you can jump in and get a better idea of how to actually play the game. That is definitely a good thing for bolstering the game’s playerbase, but even if you’re one of the game’s existing ten fans, you’ll have reasons to enjoy the next update.
The patch brings in the ranked competitive Boss League, albeit in a “season zero” setting to test the system in actual play. There’s also a new Blitzball-themed map, a new variant on the Redfalls map, and lots of new customization items for players to unlock as rewards. Spectator mode has gotten better, cross-region queueing is enabled… you can watch a video showing off all of the new features just below, so don’t shy away if the game still has your interest.
Good news, LawBreakers fans! The game has set a new record for concurrency by reaching its unprecedented nadir of 10 players online! That’s according to PCGamesN, anyway, and we’re assuming they’re using Steam stats to come to that number, since we don’t have access to console numbers.
Ten is exactly enough players to play one match, so the game was still playable. Also, bad news; when the good news is “there were enough players to make one match happen,” you need to seriously re-index “good news.” Because there isn’t much.
Player counts did apparently spike up after the game’s most recent free weekend, but they immediately dropped right back off, despite hopes that the title would start to build up steam again. One can only hope that the concurrency numbers on console are significantly higher, because if they’re anything like the PC numbers, the future does not look bright.
Have you wanted to get a peek at LawBreakers but haven’t wanted to pony up the $30 price? Now is your chance to sneak in and see if you’d like it: The game is free to try this weekend on Steam. Massively OP’s MJ is taking advantage of the opportunity and diving into the fray. Tune in live at 6:00 p.m. for a look at life in…
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 6:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, September 30th, 2017
By most accounts, LawBreakers is having a rough go at breaking into the shooter market, with even CliffyB admitting last week that his studio “need[s] the bodies” and that the player numbers are humbling. Part of that may just be the $30 cost barrier to entry, and now that barrier is going away, at least for the weekend: In the tersest Steam post of all time, Nexon has announced a free weekend for the game beginning this Thursday, September 28th, and ending October 2nd.
Most recently, the game patched up to 1.4, which boosted health for all characters, added out-of-combat health regen, group spawning, the new Namsan map, new daily login rewards, and more matchmaking and queueing options.