We’ve got more bad news for fans of RIFT and Gamigo’s other MMOs: RIFT’s community manager, CM Vilya, announced on Discord Friday that she was no longer in that role. What Vilya didn’t do is offer an explanation for her departure; however, we now understand that she is only one of multiple Gamigo community reps and other staffers who’ve been laid off this week.
Our sources suggest a significant number of employees have been let go in a company-wide purge that extends well beyond one game, including CM Amaliena, CM iArches, QA Team Lead Jan-Patrick Schukat-Hoche, and Technical Product Operator Desiree Symank. Thus far, it looks as if Trove, Echo of Soul, Desert Ops, Wargame 1942, Shaiya, and WolfTeam are all affected in some way. Fractured Online, which has yet to launch, is apparently untouched.
The news will be particularly distressing, if not surprising, to RIFT gamers, as last November Gamigo had promised “a first great update” for RIFT in the first quarter of 2022. The first quarter has nearly come and gone now without such an update, just a basic Valentine’s Day event, and worse, Gamigo failed to even acknowledge the game’s 11th birthday on March 1st.
Unfortunately, these types of layoffs are fast becoming common for the ever-shrinking and long-neglected RIFT; the team was hit with layoffs in 2018 and 2021 as well. Indeed, following the layoff round almost exactly a year ago, Gamigo dodged our questions about RIFT, refusing to elaborate on the game’s future content or even shed light on the size of the remaining team.
We’d like to be able to point to you player discussion about all this on the official RIFT forums, but the RIFT forums, along with the forums for several other Gamigo MMOs including Trove, have been offline for almost two months now. Gamigo gave neither explanation nor ETA for this situation, meaning players have been left to assemble on Discord and third-party forums and chat communities.
The optics only get worse for Gamigo, as last Thursday, Fractured put out a call for player gamer master volunteers to host events, deal with player harassment, and be on the front lines of customer service and player feedback. Gamigo and Dynamight Studios characterized the volunteer work for a parent company that made $276M in revenue last year as a “first step in the door to get into the industry” – in effect, offering exposure for unpaid work, a policy Gamigo has implemented in many of its MMORPGs. “[A]sking players to do it for free undermines the importance of proper community management for online games,” we argued, and under the circumstances, it’s clear just how Gamigo values its community teams.
We do note here that while Gamigo and its parent company, MGI, saw significant growth in 2021 thanks in part to MGI’s acquisition of KingsIsle, the growth outlook for 2022 is much lower. Gamigo itself has appeared to struggle in the MMORPG sector over the last few years since taking on the Trion MMORPGs; it lost the license for ArcheAge, sunsetted Defiance, sunsetted Atlas Reactor, sunsetted Eden Eternal, sunsetted Twin Saga, and abandoned both Skydome and Atlas Rogues.
We reached out to Gamigo for a statement about the layoffs Friday morning, but the company has not yet responded as of post time today; we’ll update when it does. We inquired about which games and teams are affected and the implications for RIFT in particular. As always, our condolences extend to those employees affected, as well as the gamers, all of whom deserve better.