The Magic Legends layoffs at Cryptic hit a lot more people than we thought

    
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Following yesterday’s awful news that PWE and Cryptic were canceling and sunsetting Magic Legends even before it had ever left beta or landed on console, we learned that at least some of the staff had been laid off, and indeed we posted as much as other studios began offering condolences and job opportunities. But we hadn’t imagined just how many people were being let go rather than moved to other PWE and Cryptic games. That appears to be at least 44 people, according to one of the affected employees who posted the headcount publicly.

“Cryptic Studios has decided to cancel Magic Legends for poor financial performance, which sadly means I am without a job,” tweeted Aaron Walz, who’d been a Senior Sound Designer at Cryptic working on the title. “They laid off 44 employees this morning. Please forward any sound designer opportunities. […] I enjoyed making the sound for this game and am very sad. […] The rest of the audio dept is safe because they don’t work on Magic. I was in charge of Magic and on that team, so sadly, my position was eliminated. […] I do have to say, Cryptic handled it very professionally and caringly – as much as possible, anyway. Our CEO was extremely emotional and choked up.”

As we noted yesterday, Magic Legends began as an MMORPG downgraded into multiplayer RPG that was plagued with delays, monetization woes, and a perceived lack of communication from the team. It’s not entirely clear how sudden the decision was; while there was certainly a sense that the game wasn’t performing well in beta, it also just saw an update a week ago.

The lights go out October 31st, 2021, but not before PWE refunds players in full. Again, our sympathies to those affected by the layoffs.

Source: Twitter. Cheers, Captain Blood.
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Ashfyn Ninegold

Very saddened to hear so many folks lost their jobs. I remember when I lost my job of 20+ years, not in any way gaming related, but the industry doesn’t matter when one day everything is okey dokey and the next day you and 600 other people are on the street holding the one box you were allowed to take with you.

Sucks.

Hope all these folks are able to find new homes. Here’s hoping that with the pandemic showing people can work remotely successfully that none of them have to move to make a living.

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cykelbud

They had too much focus on making it a Magic game instead of making best game possible. Kill your darlings.

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Greaterdivinity

Damn man. I wish they’d have been able to move all those folks over to STO/Neverwinter (and maybe CO!) to help beef up those teams and support the games that are paying the bills.

Chuffed that the folks let go are likely lower/mid level folks, and that the decision makers who likely were behind a lot of the missteps and poor decisions are probably fairly shielded from this. I’m not cheering anyone getting fired/laid off, but I hate how it usually seems to hit the folks who were just doing their jobs with no control over the direction of the game.

I genuinely loathe that this remains such a common element in the gaming industry. This shit shouldn’t be a feature, it should be a bug.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Yup. Doesn’t matter that it’s the same old, same old. Shouldn’t be this way. The execs who oversaw this should be fired. They are the ones responsible.

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Vanquesse V

The worst part is that most, if not all of the people being let go had nothing to do with the game failing, and that it’s very likely that the people responsible did not get affected.

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PanagiotisLial1

How can a game be considered to perform bad financially while in Beta? Beta isnt a monetizable status normally and a lot of potential players will wait for final release and avoid playing, let alone spending real money, when a game is in that stage.

What has changed is we see more and more companies thinking they can sell before the job is done and dropping projects before their popularity gets actually tested. All this while there were games that even started so-so on their release version and with some deep corrections went to live on for many years. Unfortunately impatience to cash in runs rampart lately

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Richard de Leon III

Well theres the possibilty the money coming in was that bad. i know i avoided spending money on the game due to many reasons. It being an arpg instead of true mmorpg, magic the gathering spending potential, and cryptics handling of NWs monetization to start.

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PanagiotisLial1

Of course it was, it was Beta. I wouldnt spend while a game is in Beta either. The problem is they THOUGHT they could have income while in testing phases

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Greaterdivinity

it was Beta

It really, really wasn’t. It was “open beta”, in the sense that it was a fully monetized, launched product that was simply hiding being the “open beta” marketing term as we’ve seen many times before. Some games have spent years in open beta, with full monetization and regular updates as if it was a launched product because…it was.

Their last testing phase was late 2020 I believe, and IIRC most of the feedback from that phase was, “The game needs more work and testing.”. Yet apparently a great many of the issues testers called out weren’t addressed by launch for one reason or another.

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Hostagecat

Sorry for everybody let go… I have been there. I hope you all land good jobs soon.

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Arktouros

Always unfortunate and hopefully they find new jobs quickly.

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Steven_AoC

Very sorry to hear about the layoffs. Lots of talented developers let go who need new homes. Intrepid is hiring for many positions, and would be happy to help people find a new home with Ashes of Creation. Visit our careers page at the Intrepid Studios company site and email us your resume. Best of luck to everyone, keep your chins up! ❤️

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Solaris

Steven, you’ve surrounded yourself with incredible talent. One of the best dev teams’ I’ve seen. Intrepid looks like it would be a fun and rewarding place to work. Hopefully you can pick some of these folks up.

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Java Jawa

Very unfortunate for the folks that were let go, hope they find something sooner rather than later.

It’s odd that this pivot of game direction is happening more frequently or at least it’s being brought out into the open so we know about it. We’ve had Torchlight III, now this. I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this happened to that Bioware robot game as well.

It’s not a good sign and unfortunately seems to waste peoples time, money, and in general really hurting the hype and image of the companies that make these and go back on their design.

Having the license to some of Hasbro’s/Wizards of the Coast properties is probably a fairly big deal too (i imagine) so ouch again!

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Jeremy Barnes

It’s what happens when you have “executives” who want to control the game development.

Build a game that is fun and then monetize it. Players will support games they enjoy. There’s ample evidence of this… all over.

It’s like the old addage for the music industry…

“You don’t have a problem if 1 million people download your song your free.. you have a problem if only ten do..”

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bobfish

The more common scenario for a pivot or direction change is that the developer has a cool idea on paper and when they build it, it turns out to be rubbish, so they have to either pivot into something related or throw it all away and start again.

Usually though, such situations result in a project being cancelled rather than changed.

Executives interfering is usually a result of something not meeting expectations (which may be unrealistic), ie it takes more time and money to make than originally thought, its not got enough profit/monetization, or they want to chase whatever the latest trend is instead.

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PanagiotisLial1

The only real connection I see, is that its harder to monetise a diablo-like game. Most fans on such games are used to paying once or very rarely so they have less paying players per every 100 players. We seen even popular diablo-likes not making great in finances. To simply put because you have less spenders on average you need bigger playerbase.

That said, this isnt what happened here since that was a Beta product, aka a product in testing phase. For most players who tried it the thought “Why would anyone spend now in Beta, will do so when released” was accurate and rightfully so and even more, there are players who simply thought”I will try it after release when they iron out most bugs”.

The big question is why expect people think differently while in Beta and who (unrealistically) thought they could monetize before release, or even gauge popularity before release?

My guess? It is slowly becoming common and we got to blame the fact that many companies look how star citizen mainly monetizes an alpha version and think they can do same to an extent. End result is people lose jobs, companies their investments and the gamers(most of whom try the release product) dont even get to try new games as they had been painted “unpopular” before releasing them to test that theory

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Unfortunately, I think you’re right. Mobile gaming has taught game companies that they don’t need a good game, just a good monetization scheme with cute graphics.

It is possible to successfully monetize an ARPG, Path of Exile comes to mind of course. But PoE didn’t start out with rabid monetization. It started out looking for players to support the game. “Supporter Packs” were just that, ways for supporters to fund the game they enjoyed. The original offerings were mild fluff and a few fun things to make you look different from everyone else. It worked.

Also, PoE doesn’t monetize any of the core game. It’s entirely free to play. (Not going to get into the ‘yeah but the stash tabs for trading’ argument.)

But always, PoE has been about the game. The amount of content GGG puts out is unmatched by any studio, even those that sincerely attempt to keep up.

ML promised nothing. Give us your money cuz Magic. Guess players weren’t buying.

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TomTurtle

It’s odd that this pivot of game direction is happening more frequently or at least it’s being brought out into the open so we know about it.

Definitely the latter. I can only imagine the amount of shit shows the general consumer had never heard about prior to the spread of information due in large part to online technology.