layoff

The Game Archaeologist: When Hellgate London got Flagshipped

It seems that it really wasn’t too long ago that I was filling in the time between night classes by boning up on video game news. I was drinking up all of the hot up-and-comers, such as Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, when I caught word that the maker of Diablo was trying to do the same thing again, only more online, in 3-D, and with a cool modern-day/futuristic/horror vibe.

There’s no better way to put it than to say that from the start, Hellgate: London looked all kinds of cool. Oh sure, you can scoff now with your perfect 20/20 hindsight, but I’m betting that more than a few of you thought the same with me around that time. Diablo but with guns and an online persistence — how could we not be intrigued? One of my most vivid memories was being torn between the idea of buying a lifetime subscription deal for $150 or not (again, this was before the free-to-play era, but also before the era of us spending the same money on alpha access. I’m just saying that you can’t judge me.).

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EverQuesting: The Domino effect on Daybreak and EverQuest II

Yup, it’s true. It was a sad day when Emily Taylor confirmed that she was indeed leaving Daybreak. When John Smedley’s tweet popped up outing Taylor’s move to Canada, I was in the middle of chatting with friends and fellow EverQuest II players. We were stunned. We know that the industry can be fickle, but Taylor had been a staple on the EQII scene. Known as “Domino,” she’d been in integral part of the Norrath crafting scene; she was responsible for penning many of the crafting signature quest lines as well as developing other parts of crafting, events, and housing. She was also well admired and appreciated by the community. Her loss would really be felt.

When we first read that tweet, our thoughts went to, oh no, what happened? followed very quickly by what’s going to happen? After the rough time Daybreak has had since the split from Sony (multiple layoffs, game closures galore, and clandestine management changes along with staff resignations), we understandably wondered if we were witnessing a step toward impeding disaster — a sentiment shared by other fans of the franchise. The uncertainty of the news was laid to rest when Taylor herself announced that yes, she was leaving. She informed players that her move was of a personal nature (she wants to shovel more snow?!) instead of any thing related to the studio. She also assured us that there were plenty of devs at Daybreak still working on the games — moreso, in fact, than when the name changed.

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MMO giant Nexon has suffered a small round of layoffs

MMORPG.com reported this morning that Nexon has suffered a round of global layoffs, though small indeed.

“In order to provide enhanced live game support, Nexon America has streamlined its operations and eliminated six positions, representing less than 1% of Nexon’s global workforce,” Nexon’s statement reads. “Nexon America remains committed to executing its strategy of continuously supporting People, Games and Players as it expands its presence in North America and beyond.”

Most recently, Nexon announced plans to bring LawBreakers to this weekend’s PAX event, with a beta effort on the way. The game is expected to launch later this year.

Source: MMORPG.com

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Gigantic developer Motiga lays off roughly a fifth of its employees

It seems fair to say that Gigantic’s development has had a troubled history, what with the game having hopped publishers, changed platforms, and seen several rounds of layoffs hit its developer Motiga. That last event has come around once more, as the studio has reportedly laid off 15 of its 82 staff members. CEO and founder Chris Chung stated that this was a result of looking ahead and planning for the longer term:

Any kind of layoff is tough, but this was done to reduce our burn rate until we get to Arc launch which will happen in a few months.

Chung stressed that the losses came primarily from business and operations. It’s not good to see another round of layoffs hitting the studio, even if the game is getting close to the finish line. Our best wishes go out to those who have lost their jobs in this latest round of layoffs.

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What in the world happened to TUG?

TUG, better known as The Untitled Game, burst onto the scene in May of 2013 with a Kickstarter, which didn’t elicit the same groans and annoyance back then as it does now. It raised almost $300,000 to complement its existing investor funding by promising a creative sandbox built by academics. Alpha launched as promised in July of 2013; the planned 2015 launch didn’t seem an impossibility. In fact, when it hit Steam in 2014, it seemed like it might be a true success story for the genre.

But then the game ran into some weird issues. Yogventures!, the Yogscast-inspired Kickstarter game, was canceled, and its developers transferred code and assets to Nerd Kingdom, offering up copies of TUG (and later, Landmark) as consolation prizes. A key TUG investor then effectively backed out, leading to mass layoffs for the team and the search for new investors, which it ultimately found. Multiplayer finally arrived in early 2015, and a number of patches followed that year, but the game lingered in what was effectively a survival sandbox mode (now referred to as 1.0) far from what was originally promised.

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Perfect World has laid off under 30 employees, ‘no impact’ on MMOs

This has been confirmed. See the end of this post for the statement.

We’ve had multiple reports this week that PWE has laid off an unknown number of employees from its MMORPG teams and substudios. At least one appears to have been Community Manager @LaughingTrendy, who worked on multiple PWE games, including Star Trek Online.

Former STO Community Manager (and Massively-that-was alumnus!) Brandon Felczer seemingly confirmed the nature of the departure, tweeting, “They are insane for doing that to her. What a loss to their communities.”

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Leaderboard: Which Daybreak MMO is most vulnerable in 2017?

In February 2015, following the SOE/Daybreak transition and ensuing mass layoffs, we polled our readers on the security of the rest of the studio’s games. Almost half of you voted that Dragon’s Prophet was the studio’s most vulnerable remaining game, with almost 20% pointing to EverQuest Next. And you were right; SOE’s North American-run Dragon’s Prophet was gone within the year, with EverQuest Next to follow just a few months later.

And now Landmark’s headed off into the sunset.

The thing is, Daybreak doesn’t really have much left. The company that once won “best studio” four years in a row and had a much-deserved reputation for keeping beloved MMORPGs going is now down to four MMORPGs, plus H1Z1 A and B, and one unannounced game, plus the games it’s publishing for Standing Stone. Yesterday we counted up the casualties and found Daybreak has now shut down approximately 16 games, most of them in the last few years — more than most studios will ever launch.

Let’s break out the poll for a revisit, two years on. Which Daybreak MMO do you think is most vulnerable now?

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Firefall: The dead game that won’t die

2016 was not Firefall’s year.

I’m not sure which year was its year, honestly, what with the e-sports bus fiasco and suspension of PvP and former CEO Mark Kern hoopla and “pre-launch reorganization” in the lead up to launch. Maybe it was 2014, when the best thing we could say about it was that it was “finally a real game.”

But 2016 was definitely not it.

Back in December 2015, rumors began to circulate that Red 5 had missed payroll, followed by a brutal company meetinglate salaries, and the inevitable “reorganization” layoffs and departures. The studio shakeup was itself followed by a hurried and bug-laden Razor’s Edge patch. In May of 2016, Chinese conglom The9, which by then effectively owned Red 5 Studios and has injected it with the cash to launch, traded part of its stake in the studio to a Cayman Islands cashmere manufacturer and announced mobile and console ports for Firefall, but that company’s stock crashed soon after and trading was suspended. Mark Kern even resurfaced to offer to buy the game that fired him.

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MMO Year in Review: Turbine gave the ring to the eagles (December 2016)

This year, 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 2017.

Ah, December: The month of endless annual awards… and end-year studio catastrophes. This round, all eyes were on venerable MMO studio Turbine as it announced it had spun out a new indie studio to take over Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online, as published by none other than Daybreak. Lost in the shuffle? The Asheron’s Call franchise, which will sunset in January 2017.

Meanwhile, gamers paid tribute to Carrie Fisher, Hero’s Song went belly up, Star Citizen launched Star Marine, Elder Scrolls Online teased housing, and Nostalrius relaunched.

And we rolled out our annual MMORPG awards, plus our blooper awards, weirdest stories, and other meta roundups.

Read on for the whole list!

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MMO Year in Review: EverQuest Never (March 2016)

This year, 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 2017.

March was pretty much the worst month of the entire year, and March 11th was a particularly bad day: It was the day that EverQuest Next was canceled, WildStar was slammed with layoffs, Colin Johanson announced he was leaving the Guild Wars 2 team, and Zahrym left the WoW team. Our Week in Review summary that week is just called “Sadface.” In retrospect, I can see why MMORPG players were shaken to the core. I’m so sorry if March 11th was your birthday.

The rest of March wasn’t much better; Revival was more or less canceled, there was that whole Ghillie suit thing, and Guild Wars 2 ended development of legendary weapons.

March was also the month a dev team coined “shitstorm matrix,” so there was that.

Read on for the curated list of our favorite posts from the month of doom.

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How 2016 took Lord of the Rings Online to the gates of Mordor

As Lord of the Rings Online nears its impressive 10th birthday in April of next year, we see a game that’s in many ways coming to its own personal endgame. To be sure, LOTRO could indeed keep on thriving for another decade to come, but the guidance of the books and the progress of the updates has kept the story marching steadily toward the climax of Mordor and Mount Doom.

At the start of 2016, players were still in the thick of Gondor and facing the largest battle of their characters’ lives. At the end, the battle is behind them, a brief respite consumed, and the task of pounding down the doors of the black country to the east remains.

Let’s take a look at the year that was Lord of the Rings Online, from its updates to its festivals to its community to the future. Perhaps this is an MMO past its prime, but in at least one important way, it is only now maturing into what it was destined to be.

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Obsidian’s Armored Warfare team hit with layoffs

Obsidian Entertainment has announced layoffs for an unknown number of staffers working on military MMO Armored Warfare.

Gamasutra reports that the cuts are planned to “take effect early next year,” so they’ll only partly ruin Christmas, though it’s not yet known how many employees will be affected. Work on the game will continue.

Here’s the official Obsidian statement to the press, suggesting that My.com’s decision to move part of the game’s development to Russia is partially the cause:

“This week we let some of our developers on Armored Warfare know that they are being laid off early next year. The publisher of Armored Warfare decided to move a portion of the development of the product to their headquarters in Moscow. We remain extremely proud of Armored Warfare and all the work we have and will continue to put into it. None of the other products at Obsidian were affected by this. We wish our people the best, and are working with them to find homes with other developers.”

Source: Gamasutra

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Exclusive interview with Ashes of Creation’s Jeffrey Bard, formerly of Daybreak

Yesterday we covered a tip about a new MMORPG in the making: Ashes of Creation. Apparently we caught wind of this title before it was fully ready for a world reveal, but when Intrepid Studios heard about our story, the team figured this was as good a time as any to talk about its project.

Lead Designer Jeffrey Bard sat down with us for a lengthy interview to introduce the game and its studio. In a nutshell, Ashes of Creation is an ambitious sandbox MMO that’s being crafted by industry veterans, including several from Daybreak, that will empower players to change and mold a game world instead of passively moving through it. The game is still in the early stage of development but has extensive plans laid out for its path forward.

Let’s dig into what Ashes of Creation has in store as it enters the MMORPG scene this month!

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