While it always sucks to hear about lay-offs, it's nice to know that it is not because the company is in a financial crisis. I've not played EVE Online before(always been interested though), that hasn't stopped me from becoming a fan of the universe that they, and the players, have created within it.
Well, I wouldn't rely on what's being said overtly about financial straights of a company, after all many companies will try and present themselves as strong in order to attract investors, as opposed to saying they are in trouble which usually causes people to abandon them.
With CCP I think they have been in trouble for a while, indeed there were internal memos leaked which caused a scandal about how "Greed Is Good" right before they opened their cash shop complete with those really expensive monocles. Not to mention the general response to the whole "Captain's Cabin" thing followed by the whole fiasco about "walking around on stations" which some people wanted, and others did not, and divided their community. Then of course the whole "Dust" thing and how that divided the community both with people who were upset about it being able to affect EVE originally, and of course conversely people who were upset when it turned out to not have that much effect on EVE comparatively speaking.
Basically CCP has done a lot to slot off their player base, and while they report strong numbers in terms of active accounts, and individual players, there has been a lot of speculation about how many paying customers they actually have. Some EVE "refugees" that have talked about wanting another space sim like it but are playing easy games like STO while hoping for one (or so they claim) talk about how the actual player base has been greatly diminishing itself and there are probably far more bots than players at the moment, and very few of those players are actually paying for the game, instead they are buying PLEX, which contrary to how it's supposed to work (someone pays for each PLEX) are currently being seeded into the game by CCP without them admitting it. This is not to say they don't have paying customers, but that there aren't anywhere near as many as they like to let on. Considering some of the spam I've been getting in greater numbers than usual, and cut rate deals on PLEX and membership, it does seem these rumors coincide with CCP doing a lot to get people back. Lay offs followed by them dropping planned expansion in favor of "smaller updates" doesn't seem like a good sign all together. Of course none of this is anything that represents concrete proof, but to me it doesn't seem like CCP is in great shape. Given that CCP's strategy was to go for a very niche audience as opposed to aiming for WoW's wide appeal, and then proceeded to apparently alienate portions of that audience with various divisive decisions (things they probably should never have considered with an audience like this) without a general pool of new customers to draw on... well, I wouldn't be betting on CCP's strength as a company if I as an investor. To my eye it seems like the problems, and rumors, started, a while back when they decided to start that whole "Cash Shop" thing for cosmetic items, and while a neat idea, I don't think Dust actually helped their case much even if people played it, largely because it seemed as many people hated it as a very concept as liked it.
That said the WoD game was in development limbo for a while, half the problem to me always seemed like they bought the IP without much of an idea on what to do with it, other than vague plans of making an MMO. I don't think they were able to get it up to it's glory days as a PnP RPG (indeed I hear very mixed things, especially given the recent "God Machine" kick it's supposed to be on now), and without anything concrete going forward with the MMO it doesn't surprise me things didn't end well. Personally I always got the impression that the guys at CCP were kind of WoD fanboys and the whole WoD MMO was a big dream, and I suspect it wound up getting axed because they just couldn't afford it with their other plans falling through and gradually losing the revenue from EVE due to a diminishing, paying, player base.
Before anyone jumps on me, again, this is from rumor and speculation. To me at least it seems likely. When a company is laying people off, closing studios, and cutting off dream projects like the WoD thing when it went out of it's way to get the rights like it did, it's not a good sign, if someone says "we're not in financial trouble" when this kind of thing is going on that's an even worse sign, as companies that have hit a rough spot but think they can recover tend to be a little more straightforward about it. If the speculation is correct, CCP can't do that, because it's already been propping itself up for appearances for a while.
When someone in STO was questioned about the Plex thing (since I guess EVE has some fans there as well as "refugees") for example they did make a rather interesting observation that a lot of the time you can figure out where a PLEX came from, as in which player actually bought the PLEX. Yet there are some that appear on the market without a seller that can really be tracked down to an active account, as someone would presumably want the money for a character they are actually playing. What's more the whole PLEX market tends to benefit new characters, who trade real money for a leg up in the game, and the ambitions of becoming self sufficient and being able to buy PLEX. The thing is for that system to work you need a constant influx of newbies coming into EVE and getting involved enough in it immediately to want to spend real money to obtain ISK. Are there enough genuine newbies (as opposed to scam newbies) coming into the game to provide the Plex all of these guys at the high end are buying? Given the way the market has relatively stabilized it's suspicious since you'd expect that the PLEX would massively increase in price due to so many people trying to play for free without enough desperate newbies to effectively buy account time for them in exchange for game finances. It does indeed lead to some interesting questions if people actually have looked into it and run the numbers like accusors have said, and again it comes down to CCP putting the Plex on the market to support their regulars and keep the game community alive and looking strong in hopes enough attention will be gained to bring more people in.... and it seems CCP has been a lot more aggressive about recruiting or trying to get people to re-activate accounts than in a long time (I've gotten more spam from them over the last few weeks than I have in years).