Chronicles of Elyria confirms layoff rumors

    
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Earlier today, we asked the Chronicles of Elyria team for a statement regarding a tip we’d received about layoffs and salary cutbacks at Soulbound, and presumably in response, the studio has published a fresh letter to the community addressing some of the rumors. Turns out they’re true, and the studio has indeed suffered a round of layoffs.

Jeromy “Caspian” Walsh explains that over the course of the last year, his team had “nearly doubled” in size, but that size was unsustainable, as the company was hoping to have secured a publisher or additional investment but hasn’t yet done so, necessitating the staff reduction.

“As a result of our change in focus, we adjusted our resources accordingly so as to be sustainable solely through sales from our online store,” he says. “Unfortunately this meant parting ways with a few of our team members. This was painful for all of us as we had developed a close bond with everyone in the studio, but it was a necessary action to move forward at the velocity and cost we need to succeed.”

The company did not address the claims that salaries for remaining employees had been slashed.

Soulbound has previously discussed its frustration over the game’s search for a publisher. Walsh reiterates that sentiment in the community letter tonight, noting that publishers seem “disinclined to take the risk on an innovative game such as Chronicles of Elyria without changing [the] intended vision” with things like “micro-transactions, loot crates, or other features that prioritize revenue over player experience.”

Our sympathies go out to those affected by the cutbacks.

Source: Official site. Updated Jan 17 to clarify salary cutback claims.
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2Ton Gamer

The game had massive ambition which is why I put a layaway down, but I was waiting on results before I spent more money. They failed to materialize and this does nothing to make me think that this game will ever truly get made. I tried to reach out to them last week about refunds, but per their policy, they do not offer refunds. That’s on me for not checking first. I assumed they were legit and straight-forward like Camelot Unchained. Yeah, yeah I know what happens when you assume, don’t remind me.

Loyheta
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Loyheta

That really sucks. :(

I wonder if the investors are afraid of funding a game that only needs a sub (spark) every year or so and that is why they needed to see MTs…

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Greaterdivinity

Can’t say something like this is terribly surprising to me given what I’ve seen from them as a business thus far, their eyes always very much seem far, far bigger than their stomachs (which I guess is a bit of a requirement for any new crowdfunding project/business : P)

Bummer to hear about the layoffs though, both for the game/studio overall and more specifically those affected. Doubly so if salaries were cut for remaining staff.

With my understanding of their goals for the game, it should have been obvious that it would be incredibly challenging to find a proper publisher to put some decent/serious money behind it, and even private investment would be a challenge with the scope of their plans and the risks they were taking. This is a big reason why I’m skeptical of these types of crowdfunding projects – they almost ALWAYS require either hefty additional crowdfunding or securing a publisher/private investors. And the risky angles many of these games take to court crowdfunding dollars really clash with the risk-averse nature of publishers/investment firms.

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MeltWithYou

The systems in this game are really ambitious for a fantasy mmo. I hope they can double down and get that minimum viable product out the door, then focus on adding more to the game over time when the game is playable and money is coming in.

Always sad to see devs laid off, its the nature of the business as most people know by now. A company cant pay for talent with money they don’t have. Good luck, hopefully they’ll be back, working in no time. Soulbounds around the Seattle area, which is a dev hot spot…they should be ok!

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silverlock

What do you mean by minimal viable product though? If they put out a minimal product for a general mmo people will scream for their heads and they will be done. While minimal for the game they promised is still very ambitious.

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MeltWithYou

I think you read into that a little too literally – minimum viable product is a product (in this case playable and complete) that sticks to it core design document. Its pretty much free of addons and ‘nice to haves’ that pop up all the time during the development process which can greatly extend every single one of your pipelines, therefore, delaying completion. It doesn’t mean ‘minimal’ although it can to some companies.

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Russell Hunt

I’m not sure if there will ever be a successful first class mmo to come from a Kickstarter. I see this happening much more often with the “new” KS mmo’s coming out.

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Knox Harrington

The future of viable crowdfunding is greatly hinged upon the success of Star Citizen.

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Daniel Miller

Not really. SC raised 34+ million alone this year, double all KS. In general MMO’s take 50-100m All other KS got pennies. but it is useless to KS a MMO. A game sure, a MMO no, as they take 5-10 years and most costly.

Even in the case of this studio. They could easily pack up bags, leave USA, or EU and go some place like vietnam where they could live on 1k easily a month. But they want those 80k sallies.

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Knox Harrington

SWTOR and Wildstar flopping helped kill funding for AAA MMO’s from major publishers which prompted the crowdfunding gold rush in the first place, so Star Citizen failing would absolutely affect crowdfunding for MMO’s. Hell, even other types of games will be impacted just because of the amount of press Star Citizen has gotten for raising as much money as it has through crowdfunding. If the game fails, it will be back to the drawing board for alternative forms of investment because consumers could very well be too wary to donate money for a game that might not even see the light of day, MMO or not.

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Armsbend

“SWTOR and Wildstar flopping helped kill funding for AAA MMO’s”

I’d say it helped kill funding for WoW clones. Both games were started when WoW was at it’s peak – I’m sure both publishers thoughts they could take a piece of the pie. Both bet incorrectly.

There is still room for innovation.

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Riccardo Tavano

Well, SWTOR failed for many reasons which aren’t only due to WoW being in the prime time.
The game was utterly unpolished at launch, there was nothing to do after hitting level 50 and the population management was a mess as launch. If you ended up in a less crowded server, well…gg. You couldn’t transfer and were left with no one to play.
And that only got worse with time…as they kept messing everything up practically every content release.

Wildstar imo was a good game, but had nothing new in itself aside from some actionish component.
Moreover the game was aimed at old hardcore MMO players, but guess what ? Most of them have a life and can’t focus everything into MMOs anymore…and the new MMOers are too used to the casual setups to enjoy such a game…so…yeah. MMOs with 40 attunement steps for a raid and high difficulty spikes in dungeons and raids aren’t a thing anymore.

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Russell Hunt

I think Pantheon may find a good niche with the older crowd, I know I’m looking forward to it and it’s challenges.

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Armsbend

I didn’t mean to say only reason. EA/Bioware not being particularly talented is the main reason imo. But the main reason is they thought they could bring in some new folks with a beloved IP and draw some WoW folks with better graphics and a sci fi but cute setting (but still a clone). Wrong on both accounts – because Blizzard is endlessly more talented than either company could ever be in a 1000 years. Why leave?

rahkeesh
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rahkeesh

WoW is the only Western MMO that has generated the kind of profits that attract AAA investors. They aren’t going to sink money into innovative ventures that will more likely fail, they are going to wait for the next PUBG to copy.

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Knox Harrington

This is the grim reality of gaming these days where studios struggle to make games for the players while trying to avoid publishers who want games made for profit.

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Bývörðæįr mòr Vas´Ðrakken

I hate being right about these things but people get attached to their characters and things. It likely was that it was a new concept that needed more people seeing it work in action, before they could get critical mass. Most publishes likely turned it down because it was not a sequel not because it was different. They likely needed to make a game that did better than EQII numbers before they could pitch an idea to a publisher that was different. Look at what RSI had to do for an idea that was more complex and they almost failed with what ten times the money? Since they are focusing succeeding they might have enough numbers to keep the game alive and had to lay anyone off that could not live on what they could afford to pay people, or they might have simply cut the bottom or the newest employees. In business to be taken seriously you need to waste money, it is stupid but true, and likely they are having to cut all that away to get a finished game. I do think there are parts that were really interesting but everything I saw it in the news I went oh that is cool, but oh wait isn’t that the company with aging and corpse looting? So likely a lot of other people loaded up their favorite game and said so what do I have on this character, nope not playing a game with character looting. They may succeed and show us a new unreal death match type game play. Either way good luck to those that got laid off.

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Paragon Lost

I thought that they had some private investors? Or is that some other sandbox mmorpg in development that I’m thinking of?

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Utakata

Investors may have wanted some “overhead” trimming before they funded the project. This article also suggests that Soulbound may have bitten off more then they could chew. Either way, heads started rolling as a result. /bleh

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Dro Gul

Not like this should be a shock to anyone. Sad to see though.

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Daniel Miller

Got to feel bad for those 5 and 10k backers. 10k ones in paticular had interviews live streamed. It is quite possible they will never get what they were promised when cash was handed over.

misterpiece84
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misterpiece84

If they can afford to spend 10k on a video-game they either don’t know the value of money and this will teach them or they can afford to lose them.

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Songs for Children

I have no sympathy for someone who has that kind of money to spend on pixels.