Rumor: Wizard101 and Pirate101 developer KingsIsle hit by layoffs [Confirmed]

    
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How are you this way.

[Update: KingsIsle has confirmed the layoffs to Massively OP; see end of post for statement.]

Industry vets on Twitter have begun sending condolences to KingsIsle employees allegedly hit with “mass” or “massive” layoffs today. KingsIsle is the studio behind kid-centric MMOs Pirate101 and Wizard101.

The KingsIsle Entertainment website is still showing multiple positions unfilled; a tweet last night from the company advertised for a systems admin. We’ve reached out to our company contact for more information and will update when we have it. Our sympathies extend to all of those affected.

Update: KingsIsle has confirmed the layoffs, issuing the following statement to MOP by email:

To verify, many talented employees were released as part of a reduction in force today at KingsIsle Entertainment, and we wish them the best. This coincides with a couple of unreleased mobile games being cancelled. The strategy is to refocus our efforts on our MMO games and polish our more promising mobile projects, many of which are still slated for a 2016 release. Fans of our MMOs should know that Pirate101 is soon to receive an update and will be going to Test Realm most likely next week.  Wizard101 has new content updates in the works for both Summer and Fall 2016.

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Jack Pipsam
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Jack Pipsam

If they ever make another MMO, they should consider making one where the younger players would want to stick with the game once they’re older kids and tweens.
I think Runescape has been able to succeeded greatly in this area, people playing from kid to adulthood.

Jack Pipsam
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Jack Pipsam

chosenxeno But it IS a kids game. Doesn’t mean it’s bad though.
Pirates of the Caribbean Online was a kids MMO, yet I enjoyed my time in that far more than I did in Pirates of the Burning Sea.
Partly because Disney let me type in my own username instead of the dumb wheel-of-words which Wizard goes for.
I remember when people kept insisting Ratchet & Clank wasn’t made for kids because it had guns and some parts were hard, yet I pointed out all the logical reasons why it so clearly was made with children in mind, doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Plenty of kids games are challenging, in part they need to be. Since kids cannot buy as many games as adults can, games made for kids need to be made to last longer.
Not to mention there’s different age brackets within kids media, something made for a four year would would not interest a seven year would which would not interest a ten year old which would not interest a twelve year old.
I have only played Wizard101, but to me it sits firmly in the 6 – 9 bracket.
The larger text in bold and the type of language used is a first good indicator. And as you say, those stupid “pick your name from this wheel of pre-approved zany words” is another one. Or the you can only type in pre-approved words, meaning if you make a spelling error (for example ‘waht’ instead of ‘what’) , the game treats you like a sex offender and blanks it out.
That I think is the key problem with kid mmos keeping a younger playerbase, it has a hard time keeping a dedicated userbase the way Runescape can.
While younger children might deal with it, once a child hits like 9 or for sure 10, they’ll just get insulted by the restrictions. It’s no surprise that Minecraft, Trove, Robox and used to be Runescape are popular with younger players, games which offer freedom of communication.
Meaning that it’s an cycle of younger players coming in and out of the game, while older players might stick to it, the younger players are the core demographic. Once they reach the age where they’re on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter (which let’s be honest, is now like eleven), they’re ‘tweens’ and they don’t want anything to do with a kiddy game.
The problem isn’t that it’s a childs game, the problem is it’s made for a very specific child bracket and the restrictions would keep younger players from sticking around.

chosenxeno
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chosenxeno

I played Wiz101 and I don’t think it’s a kids game. It’s just a lot more Kid safe with the way it’s presented and because of certain restriction such as names and how chat is handled. It’s a pretty challenging game tbh. It’s also a bit underrated  and that’s largely due to people assuming it’s a child’s game.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Mark Jacobs breetoplay MikedotFoster Yeah, unfortunately I was right about her. Mleh. :/

Mark Jacobs
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Mark Jacobs

breetoplay MikedotFoster I just emailed with a good friend who works down there. Not a good day at all. A lot of really good people were affected.

Nordavind
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Nordavind

“Released” as if they’re free now to ‘pursue other challenges’.
I. Hate. Spindoctors. No hyperbole. Hate.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

We’ve updated with KingsIsle’s statement; it might not be as bad as it looks, as it’s possible most of those let go were working on the canceled mobile games.

Vexia
Guest
Vexia

Oof, that’s actually pretty unexpected. My heart goes out to everyone who was affected; I hope they can get back on their feet again as smoothly as possible. There are so few companies making MMOs targeted to kids, so it’s especially sad to see KingsIsle doing mass layoffs.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

MikedotFoster I have a feeling our contact there might have been affected. :( I hope I am wrong. Shitty news.

Liraven
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Liraven

MikedotFoster Me too! Their games are a lot of fun. I hope those affected by the layoffs find new employment quickly.