To us, SOE are mostly the Planetside 2 and EverQuest people – but in the last three years alone, they’ve also been the Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures people, the Magic: The Gathering Tactics people, the DC Universe Online people, and the Bullet Run people. Not all of those ventures have been the unequivocal successes their flagship universes have, and the company last night announced a major “reduction” of their workforce.
The official statement plies a familiar line about reducing costs, streamlining employee bases and strategically re-aligning resources. The crux of it, though, sees SOE regrouping behind their current crop of games – Planetside and DC:UO included – and “upcoming slate of MMOs” – namely EverQuest Next.
“As a company, our goal is to focus on our core expertise of MMO games and as part of these efforts, we had to make the difficult decision to eliminate positions.”
SOE talk like they’re beginning to realise that their strengths lie in blue-sky MMOs (on paper, conversely, the riskiest investments imaginable) and should therefore probably throw all of their troops into that particular Sunderer APC.
Gamasutra report that the layoffs affected staff at both SOE’s San Diego HQ and Austin offices – the latter of which was responsible for development of both DC Universe and, once upon a time, Star Wars Galaxies. PC Gamer, meanwhile, cite a “trusted source” in claiming that as many as 200 have been laid off – with about half cut from quality assurance and customer support departments.
“We deeply value our employees and are grateful for all they’ve contributed to our company and games,” read the statement. “They will be missed by colleagues and friends, and we wish them well in the future.”
“Sorry to say that we did have layoffs,” elaborated ever-honest CEO John Smedley on Twitter. “We’re still moving forward with all our current games and games in development including EverQuest Next and other unannounced titles.
“The people who got laid off are very good people. Very sorry this happened. Layoffs suck. These are really, really good people who don’t deserve this.”