UPDATE: SOE Closing Studios, Cutting 205 Staff

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UPDATE: SOE Closing Studios, Cutting 205 Staff

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Over half of SOE studios are closing their doors for good.

Update: Sony Online Entertainment has confirmed that it is closing three offices, laying off 205 employees and cancelling production of its spy-based MMO The Agency. The studio intends to focus on developing MMOs based on its EverQuest and PlanetSide brands. The entire statement from SOE is below.

As part of a strategic decision to reduce costs and streamline its global workforce, SOE announced today that it will eliminate 205 positions and close its Denver, Seattle and Tucson studios. As part of this restructuring, SOE is discontinuing production of The Agency so it can focus development resources on delivering two new MMOs based on its renowned PlanetSide and EverQuest properties, while also maintaining its current portfolio of online games. All possible steps are being taken to ensure team members affected by the transition are treated with appropriate concern.

This strategic decision will have no impact on SOE's current portfolio of live games; additionally SOE will transition development efforts for the Denver and Tucson studios' suite of products to its San Diego headquarters. This strategic alignment of development resources better positions SOE to remain a global leader in online gaming and deliver on its promise of creating entertaining games for players of all ages, and servicing the 20 million players that visited SOE servers in just the past year.

This is terrible news, not only for the families of those workers who find themselves out of a job but also for the future of the MMO games business. SOE was one of the big guys, and for them to suffer these kinds of layoffs provides further proof that MMOs are not the cash cows they once were.

The Escapist sends whatever warm fuzzy support it can to those who have lost their jobs.

Original post: Sources suggest that Sony Online Entertainment, the publisher of high-profile MMOs like EverQuest 1 & 2, Star Wars Galaxies and most recently, DC Universe Online, is to close three of the studios under the SOE umbrella, as well as laying off staff in several others.

The rumors started flying after 3D Realms' George Broussard tweeted that SOE was considering looking at closing its Seattle studio. Broussard might seem like an odd source for such news, but it's not the first time he's seemed to be the first to know about something like this: Last October, he tweeted about layoffs at IO Interactive, which were later confirmed by the studio.

But according to sources apparently close to the situation, it's not just the Seattle office that's at risk. SOE's studios in Tuscon, Arizona, and Denver, Colorado are apparently also scheduled for closure. Additionally, SOE has also apparently laid off half the staff at its Austin studio, and a large portion at San Diego. The total job losses constitute around a third of SOE's workforce.

Sony has yet to respond to these rumors, but if and when it does, we'll make sure to update the story.

Source: Kotaku

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Damnit. I hope Planetside: Next doesn't get scrapped. I've been waiting years for a decent MMOFPS to come out... Why is it that there are so many right-clicky-auto-attacky-hotbar MMO's and nothing twitch based?

I hope this isn't true...I want Planetside Next.

Looks like it's not only true, but they canceled "The Agency" as well. That's a shame. The game looked interesting. Apparently, the new Planetside is still going.

http://ps3.ign.com/articles/115/1158571p1.html

Callex:
Damnit. I hope Planetside: Next doesn't get scrapped. I've been waiting years for a decent MMOFPS to come out... Why is it that there are so many right-clicky-auto-attacky-hotbar MMO's and nothing twitch based?

gibboss28:
I hope this isn't true...I want Planetside Next.

This is awesome... in a crap sort of way. It's like with Silicon Knights, how they developed Too Human instead of working on a sequel to Eternal Darkness. SOE had something really good going with Planetside, and then they decided to go into another project (like DC Universe Online) that just ends up being uninspiring and forgettable at best, or a boring, stupid piece of shit at worst.

Personally, I'm more interested in the new Tribes that's supposed to be coming out in a year or so, but yeah. Shame if we lose Planetside: Next.

this is no rumor, from what i'm hearing. good friend of mine just lost her job after being there a month. totally sucks.

That reminds me. Better cancel my dcuo subscription before they take anything out.

Well this is a terrible April Fools joke.
Wait, it's not?
Well, bugger. That sucks. Always bad to see a company go down, especially by this much.

this is not a good april fools joke

Wow that sucks. Was really looking forward to The Agency...

Losing your job sucks(massive understatement). Hopefully they can get back on their feet quickly.

What can you expect from a developer that went down in the first MM bracket?

SOE...playing stupid with MMO's since early 2000.

So it's closing work on The Agency (new game that looked cool) to keep up work on Planetside and Everquest? Games that haven't been popular since...WoW came out?

Oh, SOE, why are you SO incompetent? You've not even fixed the damn ships in Everquest yet, and you've been working on that code for 10 years now.

Bad News Bears - although The Agency and DC Universe look terrible so maybe they'll have time to focus on better projects, but who's going to make them?

An industry that sets itself up for endemic expansions & contractions should remove the term 'fulltime employee' from its vocab. Project-based contracting is harsh, but at least it's honest about the relationships involved.

Cheers

Colin

HOORAY! The company that slaughtered Star Wars Galaxies like a ceremonional Goat is finally getting what it deserves!

I mean, yeah it sucks for those employees and I am sorry for them. I hope they find new jobs and get their lives back in order, sincerely as it isnt them that made the changes final, it was the suits in their big offices who get to keep their jobs and continue making awful games.

Still, at least now the karma train has slammed into their HQ and made me a very happy nerd ^_^

Damn, I hope Pox Nora is ok.

I'm probably the only person on this site that would say that without a hint of sarcasm...

"MMOs" are not a cash cow. "MMO" is. One in particular. You know the one.

...

That's right, Farmville

Irridium:
Wow that sucks. Was really looking forward to The Agency...

Losing your job sucks(massive understatement). Hopefully they can get back on their feet quickly.

Agreed on both counts.

I wasted all that time following the progress of The Agency for nothing? Sigh SOE, you disappoint me once again.

As sad as it is for companies to be laying off staff, perhaps for gaming in the long run it's a good thing. Perhaps companies are finally starting to realise that cloning WoW (with a different skin on perhaps) is ultimately unprofitable.

See their decision above : The premise of The Agency might have been really interesting.. but everything I read about it's core design just screamed WoW-clone, focused on repetitive grinding etc.

And yet, they decided to keep Planetside. Why? It never did that well.... perhaps they realised that true growth is going to come from tempting all those people that are sick of WoW, rather than trying to steal Blizzards customers and hoping for the best.

So yeah. It sucks, but in the long run in might be good for gamers. Might. This IS Sony Online Entertainment we're talking about.

... these kinds of layoffs provides further proof that MMOs are not the cash cows they once were.

Of course they aren't; the market's saturated. Heck, even Hello Kitty has an MMO (which is ironic from a South Park perspective).

These are the kind of news articles that make me paranoid for losing my job if our product doesn't do well once released ugh >.<

Kind of sad that this means the one original IP of the bunch (The Agency) mentioned up there is canned, but two follow-ups are now the focus. Yes, it makes financial sense, but fewer IPs out there makes me a sad man.

SOE's been something of a mismanaged cluster since.. forever. EQ was lightning in a bottle that they kept trying to recreate by throwing money around. It certainly needs to get smaller, but it needs a shakeup at the top more.

While this is terrible this didn't have to happen if SOE decided to not make terrible games.

What's the deal with all of the layoffs in the game industry lately?

[quote="Harbinger_" post="7.274328.10614794"]While this is terrible this didn't have to happen if SOE decided to not make terrible games.[/quote

110% Agree.

When I looked at new MMOs that came out, if the company managing it was SOE, I never think about it again. They really need to fix there image problem as well.

I dont think the MMO Market has any problems as a whole, more people are just wised up to the low quality of SOE games.

The loss of jobs pisses me off, because if SOE had not made such blunders in previous years maybe they would have avoided this.

While this is indeed suck for all those employees, and I feel for them, has Sony really been one of the 'big guys' in the MMO space since they totally dropped the ball after EQ1? What hot properties do they have now? Free Realms.

Callex:
Damnit. I hope Planetside: Next doesn't get scrapped. I've been waiting years for a decent MMOFPS to come out... Why is it that there are so many right-clicky-auto-attacky-hotbar MMO's and nothing twitch based?

Really? I think Planetside was one of the reasons SOE failed. I played PS for about a year then moved on. When I went back about 6 months later I realized why. How can you have a MMOFPS with an aiming reticle that's basically meaningless? I remember trying to figure out why I wasn't hitting the guys I was aiming at with a long range weapon so I started firing at a wall and realized half my shots were going wide... what? Level based or not your "bullets" should be going where they are aimed. Besides this major flaw I think PS could've been great and hopefully this will be fixed if Next ever ships because I did enjoy almost everything else about the game.

As far as SOE, they really haven't done anything worthwhile, imho as always, for quite awhile. I was really disappointed in EQ2 because it, again imho, strayed so far from EQ. Vanguard was the last SOE title I got excited about and, although I did play it for awhile, the seeming lack of support from SOE sank it for me. At this point it's like looking back at Blockbuster and trying to figure out what they were thinking. But I hope narrowing their focus will bring back what EQ was and PS could be. I'll never look at SOE with fondness, same as EA or anymore, Ubisoft, but I'll always be interested in what they could do.

I hope the people losing their jobs find work soon, I know from experience how tough it is in this economy and wish them all luck.

Have never been a fan of SOE, but im sorry that they have had to make cutbacks. Hope the workers can get back on there feet soon.

HOT TIP: I have a good freind who works for Criterion Games, in their guildford HQ. Apparently they are working on ideas for a new FPS and may need to take on some new developers, so keep an eye on them. Still these are just early ideas being tossed around in the boradroom, so take it for what it is.

(Though I hope they are considering a black sequal)

Quesa:
SOE's been something of a mismanaged cluster since.. forever. EQ was lightning in a bottle that they kept trying to recreate by throwing money around. It certainly needs to get smaller, but it needs a shakeup at the top more.

Shakeups at the top dont happen, brother.

Ever.

Whiskey Echo!!
Mythgraven

Also, if they're doing so bad why the fuck did they donate $3.6 mil in Japan relief funds?

Good. They basically ruin everything they touch. Couldn't happen to a worse company.

They say they're focusing on Planetside and Everquest.

In the event that Planetside Next doesn't come out, I still should have Tribes Universe. :)

That said, this is an extremely drastic change and layoffs affect everyone. It just goes to show you that there might not be as huge a market for these kinds of games anymore.

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