While studio layoffs have an immediate effect on the people that are let go, the ramifications of such decisions can end up impacting players as well.
Case in point, EVE Online. CCP’s decision last month to shutter two of its studios included the layoff of most all of the studio’s social media team. One of these employees, CCP Logibro, helped players with organizing tournaments on a separate test server. Without this help, many of these tournaments are in doubt, including this year’s Anger Games. The event was to be the third in the game’s history, but CCP could not scramble to find someone to assist in this, and the tournament had to be canceled.
Players were upset over the last-minute cancellation, but CCP said it couldn’t be helped: “Sorry we weren’t able to support this as planned. At the minute, we’re currently working on prioritizing quite a few community projects and getting our heads together to resume regular service, but unfortunately the Anger Games happened to be too close to recent events for us to be able to assist.”
Here is hoping that next year, CCP will be in a more stable position and can assist players in getting this (and other) tournaments up and running. But for now, CCP is gambling with employees’ lives and hurting the game culture overall.
Last week we broke the story that EVE Online
developer CCP Games is backing out of the virtual reality games market
, closing its Altanta office and selling its VR-focused Newcastle studio. The long-held Atlanta office was acquired in the merger with White Wolf in 2006 and has been hit with several rounds of layoffs over the years, with a major hit in 2011
after the Monoclegate disaster and another 2014 when the World of Darkness MMO was cancelled
. The Newcastle studio was the development house responsible for CCP’s VR dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie
, and both Valkyrie
and CCP’s new VR game Sparc
will now be maintained by the London office.
Around 100 staff were laid off in the restructuring, roughly 30 of whom worked in CCP’s headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland. Though we were informed at the time that these changes would not impact the development of EVE Online, it since became apparent that more than a few non-development staff were cut. In addition to the EVE PR staff and others that were stationed in Atlanta, all but two members of the EVE community team in Reykjavik have also been let go. There are reports that several GMs and the localisation manager for EVE have departed too, and the mood on twitter from staff in Reykjavik recently is best described as sombre and a little shaken.
In this extra edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into CCP Games’s history of taking risks with staff’s jobs, look at some of those affected by the layoffs, and ask whether there is more fallout to come.
Last night, we reported on multiple employees and former employees’ allusions to the closure of Motiga Games, the studio behind MOBA Gigantic. “Today marks the end of Motiga and my time with an absolutely amazing team,” wrote former audio lead Dan Crislip. “If anyone is hiring, we’re all looking!”
Perfect World has now responded to Massively OP with a statement on what’s going on – in fact, it’s not just Motiga affected, as apparently Runic Games is also shutting down. PWE is distancing itself from the decisions.
“Following the news that Motiga has reduced the staff of its studio, Perfect World Entertainment can confirm that as the publisher of Gigantic, the game will continue to be available on our platforms. A core team of developers remains at Motiga, who will work with us to support the game and its players, including moving full steam ahead with the upcoming November update and future content. We cannot thank everyone enough for their contributions in making Gigantic the outstanding experience it is today.”
Multiple employees and former employees are tweeting tonight alluding to the closure of Motiga Games, the studio behind MOBA Gigantic.
“Today marks the end of Motiga and my time with an absolutely amazing team,” wrote now former audio lead Dan Crislip. “If anyone is hiring, we’re all looking!”
It is not clear yet what the future of the game will be and how and whether Perfect World Entertainment, which added the studio and game to its umbrella last year following multiple rounds of layoffs and financial difficulties at Motiga, will continue Gigantic’s development. As of the time of this post tonight, no official statement from either company has been issued.
We have reached out to PWE for a statement and will report back when we have it (we doubt we’ll get it before sun-up on the west coast tomorrow).
Our hearts go out to the entire team.
Icelandic business website mbl.is has just reported that EVE Online developer CCP Games is planning to close two of its offices and cease all VR game development. The move affects over 100 staff worldwide, with the Atlanta office in the United States being closed and the Newcastle studio being sold off. The Newcastle office was the development house responsible for the VR dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie, which released as a bundled launch title for the Oculus Rift and has since been released on PlayStation VR and as a non-VR PC title.
The move will see CCP pull out of the VR market for the time being, focusing instead on PC and mobile development. The studio secured a $30 million US investment specifically for VR games back in 2015, and CEO Hilmar Pétursson revealed back in March of this year that the company had only recently broken even on that investment. Despite having some success with Valkyrie, Gunjack, and its recently released VR sports title Sparc, CCP acknowledged the limited opportunities and growth it sees in VR as a platform over the next several years.
Kotaku is reporting that Amazon has “basically canceled” Breakaway, with two sources confirming that the game is over – on “indefinite hiatus,” one said, with the potential to return in another format in the future.
The game was announced by Amazon’s fledgling studio last fall following a drawn-out series of Twitter teases. It was essentially a 4v4 brawler that boasted heavy Twitch integration.
It is not clear whether other in-progress Amazon games — like the MMO sandbox New World or the unnamed game John Smedley’s old Hero’s Song team was picked up to work on — are affected. Kotaku writes that “no layoffs are planned” for Breakaway’s team, in any case.
During this week’s Massively OP Podcast, Justin and I attempted to tackle a question sent in by commenter and listener Sally Bowls – specifically, she wanted us to speculate on what a post-launch monetization plan for Star Citizen might look like.
“Assuming they have a lot of overhead and expense, are they going to fire most of their employees at launch? Keep them and support them with subscriptions? DLC? Cosmetics? A stream of new ships would be my first guess – but new ships good enough that people spend $50M-$100M per year withouth causing old customers to think the new shiny invalidates their previous purchase? That seems to me a non-trivial tightrope to walk.”
Put away your instinct to joke that it won’t matter because Star Citizen is never coming out. Let’s just reasonably assume that it does eventually launch into something the studio will call more or less ready. How do you think Star Citizen will make money after launch? That’s the question I’ve posed the Massively OP team for this round of Massively Overthinking.
Are we witnessing the death throes of EverQuest II? Of the whole EverQuest franchise? These questions have been at the forefront of my mind lately. Today’s EverQuesting started as a guide to EQII’s expansion prelude event, but I kept coming back to these questions. (The guide will come next week!)
Yes, I know that there are folks who have cried that EQ and EQII have been dying or all-but dead for years — and Next and Online Adventures are already deceased and buried. Yet during those years we’ve still seen some life in the first two games. They have persevered!
But now, I feel like I am witnessing the franchise’s final breaths. Me, the eternal optimist; me, who subsists on hope. And I started losing that hope because Daybreak’s actions lately appear to indicate that there’s no love left for one of my all-time favorite games, EQII. Between less dev interaction, less content, less communication, and just less enthusiasm for these two titles — yet a preponderance of attention on others — it’s hard to hold onto hope. At no other time has it felt as if Daybreak was turning its back on and all but abandoning the IP that gave it life more than it does right now. The IP that still has many fervent fans. My final two straws? The lack of any exposure at PAX West and the lack of enthusiasm for this year’s expansions.
A business-oriented piece on Delidded Tech overnight seems to have rustled up Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman in response.
Delidded digs into this week’s shareholder report from Fidelity’s Contrafund, which he believes holds convertible bonds in the long-running MMORPG studio. Author Skilliard posits both in the article and on Reddit that “the interest rate on the bond [12%] indicates that the company may be at significant risk of default,” a claim he salts further by recalling what he terms Trion’s “history of layoffs over the past five years.”
On Reddit, Hartsman says that it’s true that “one of Fidelity’s funds has had a small stake in Trion since long before [his] time in [the] job” but suggests there’s nothing to worry about because Delidded’s characterization of the funding as convertible bonds is incorrect; they are actually payment-in-kind bonds from four years ago, which explains the high interest rate.
Did our article yesterday on MMOs in limbo knock one loose? Probably not, but one of them is sunsetting all the same: Firefall. Late last night, an unknown Red 5 staffer posted the sad news.
“With heavy hearts, we regret to inform you that after much review and analysis, Red 5 Studios have decided to suspend the Firefall efforts on 7th, July 2017. Thank you for being an important part of the Firefall experience and for your loyalty and dedication to the online community. Your efforts and loyalty will not go without recognition, however. Firefall is currently developing a mobile version of the game and all of Firefall’s founders and players will be rewarded greatly in the new game. We will be sure to provide everyone with more updates as we have them. Thank you for your support and enthusiasm throughout the years; we will see you at the next battle.”
Yay, a mobile game. You could also head over and pick up your credit toward Mark Kern’s new game, Em-8ER.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week we have stories and videos from Dota 2, Destiny 2, Battleground Europe, ArcheAge, Orbus VR, Final Fantasy XI, Hearthstone, TERA, Tibia, Elsword Online, Osiris New Dawn, League of Legends, Astroneer, SMITE, Warframe, The Black Death, and Gloria Victis, all waiting for you after the break!
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.).
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.