BioWare lay off SWTOR staff: is it the beginning of the end?

To answer this post’s title first up: no.

Most importantly, commiserations to those who have lost jobs – it’s never an easy thing for anyone having to adjust to a new reality, even if they’re lucky enough to have another job to go to.

The full announcement from BioWare’s founders:

Hey folks, since you’re reading this you may likely have heard that we’ve done some restructuring here on the SWTOR team. Sadly, we are bidding farewell to some talented, passionate and exceptionally hard-working people who helped make SWTOR a reality. Impacting people’s lives this way is always very hard, but we’re ensuring the affected people are treated with dignity, fairness and respect.

Looking back at launch, we all came together and did something historic. We executed one of the largest, most successful and stable launches of any MMO yet in industry history. That is not an easy feat for any development team or company and we are humbled and honored by our fan community’s strong support both at launch and beyond.

Looking forward, the studio remains vibrant and passionate about our many upcoming initiatives for Star Wars: The Old Republic. We still have a very substantial development team working on supporting and growing the game, and we feel we are in a strong position, with your continued involvement and feedback, to continue to build Star Wars: The Old Republic as one of the most compelling and successful online experiences in the world today. There are many strong initiatives planned for cool new content and new features that we’re excited to tell you about in the upcoming weeks and months.

Rest assured that we remain dedicated to delivering a high quality service in SWTOR to you, our fans, and we will continue to support and grow Star Wars: The Old Republic over the weeks, months and years to come.

Thanks,
Greg and Ray

So, in regard to the layoffs and their implications for SWTOR, there’ll be no shortage of prognostications about how this is the beginning of the end. There’s one small flaw in that argument though: can anyone show me where an MMO development team maintains its full workforce post-launch? Surely no-one thinks that the huge team involved in getting SWTOR off the ground would all be kept ongoing?

Sure, there’s a massive amount of development of the game still to do, particularly given the proposed enhancements and the regular content updates that need to happen. Even then, I would have thought ongoing efforts require a smaller team now that development processes post-launch would be well and truly bedded down.

Again, it’s a hard time for those affected, but let’s not mix up respect for that with an assumption of more ominous undercurrents.

Over to you: do you see this announcement as a natural part of the process or am I being a BioWare apologist?

Comments

  1. apologist. Have you actually been PLAYING the game, and reading the comment threads on SWTOR.com? This game just does not live up to the hype, and they are bleeding players like crazy. They are going to have to pull a rabbit out or their hat to get this game to become “one of the most compelling and successful online experiences in the world today”, because it is really a far cry from that now. 
    I am not even that demanding of a player of MMOs (not a hardcore raider or PVPer), and I am BORED. I was bored after a week. I played WoW for a full YEAR several years back, and I sometimes still miss things about playing that game. This one? Won’t miss it. Not renewing. And that is SAD, because I wanted to like the game very much. Just like all the other Star Wars lovers who payed good money to play it.
    So yes–it is sad that people are loosing their jobs. If I were working there still I’d be keeping an eye out for my next step, because my guess is there will be more rounds of the same coming down the pike.

  2. David, I think you may be a little on the apologist side with this. That being said, the game is not going to disappear overnight. Heck even Star Trek Online is still going under a Free2Play model. I think SWTOR was a lot more successful than Warhammer Online, but in a way I feel the games are similar. I’m sort of bored with SWTOR and there is nothing enticing me back to play on a regular basis. If I can put my finger on it, I think it’s because it’s a game whose story is very much on rails. There is no open world feel to it. So in terms of replay, you go “Oh Gawd, do I have to got though Coruscant Quests again?”. Actually that very thing is what stopped my wife from playing. Ultimately that is what will kill it, the story on rails. Warcraft has so many replay options, and different starting areas. It’s much more open world.

    • THIS
      no replay value
      It’s a grind–the whole thing. Wanna level an alt? You have to go thru all the same side quests all over. Want to level a crafting skill? Dump huge amounts of credits (that you have to grind by questing, usually) into it, and then find that you can’t sell anything because there are so few people on your server, the GTN is a PITA, there are ways to get everything you need from the NPCs–or whatever it is that makes the crafting so un-useful in this game. Space battles–OMG lol. Don’t even get me started on how silly the space battles are.  No true exploration to do (has anyone noticed all the zones that you can’t even walk thru on planets?)–so stick to the roads they gave you to quest in… For the people who PVP, they are fussing about lack of world PVP (who thought it was a good idea to have the factions quest in totally different areas?) and that the same WZs over and over get stale. There is more, but that is plenty. I read PAGES and PAGES (more than 50!) of comments like this the other night on their forums. It helped me see why I felt so “MEH” and frustrated about the game. The story for the different classes are enjoyable, and I thought they did a great job with that part, but it seems like they focused so much on the stories and the voice acting that they forgot they were supposed to build an interesting game around that.

  3. Hey. I may be in the minority but me and a lot of the PvPers in my guild are pretty much enjoying it still and are very active. We are leveling alts to ensure that have a healthy composition for our PvP premade teams and none of this has really affected us. We are eagerly waiting for 8man queues and ranked WZ. W figured that they’ll probably only come after they fix the server propulation with transfers.

    The problem i have is that I have to go to work and have other life commitments and don’t have enough time to play as much as I want (which could also be one of the reason why I’m not bored already, as quickly as some others). So maybe not enough time to play all day is a good thing afterall. Lol

    It probably means we have more time to level alts until they introduce RWZ and/or 8man queues. I’m in Midian on Master Dar’Nala btw. =)

  4. forceslinger says:

    I’m still having fun, but then I don’t play a huge amount due to other obligations.. maybe that’s spreading the fun out a bit for me? Hope the game to pick up steam again, I think it’s got potential still.

  5. Aisling says:

    They’ll be fine once they merge servers and add cross-server queueing (for LFG & PVP). They went too big, too quick (thanks to EA). They should have let the game grow slowly like WoW did instead of aim for millions AT launch. Now there are too many servers and it’s impossible to find other players to play with.

  6. Jrrhobbit says:

    The real question that no one ever answered — WHY?  Why did you let all those people go?  All the press release echo chamber blogs never get to that question — I wish there were a journalist out there who would go get a couple of the laid off people marinated with vino and get them to spill the real reasons.  

    • Jrrhobbit says:

      BTW – – I still like the game, but in small doses and only to chat with my gaming friends that I’ve been playing with for years.  If we didn’t have WoW fatigue, we would go back.  We are waiting for the next shiny.

  7. Rockhead says:

    The lay offs appear to have been wide ranging and have affected some of the more senior staff including Community Manager Stephen (Rockjaw) Reid.  

    There is still little firm information on the details of the redundancies and we can only speculate on whether this is a planned staff reduction or something done in response to the drop in subscribers or something else entirely. However since Daniel Eriksson was recently promoted it would appear (based on minimal information) that some sort of restructuring has been ongoing for a while.All any of us can do is wait and see what happens. Two things remain true however:1.  the SWToR forums remain a cesspit of trolls and whiners so can not be seen as a reliable gauge of the community as a whole, 2. uniformed speculation about the game’s future is pointless except to highlight the writers own ignorance. Any comments should probably avoid couching opinions as fact.Before anyone says it, I include myself in this as I know as little as the rest of you.Have a great day, y’all.

  8. Rockhead says:

    Just thought I’d post this tweet from Larry Everitt, just so we can put the layoffs into some kind of perspective. 😉
    Larry Everett ‏@ShaddoeI guess it would not be an MMO without layoffs a few months after launch. http://ow.ly/b4JhI #SWTOR My <3 goes out to those affected

  9. F2P here we come says:

    Of course its the beginning of the end. It’s funny to see people on here denying it over and over. Desperate for the game to live on. It is a disappointment – I don’t think there’s any denying that. I’m hugely disappointed. But I’ll keep my sub for another couple of months if only to justify the years I waited for this turkey.

  10. James Tansy says:

    i like to creat a SWTOR server and call it Jedi Dragons Knights and I play it and I like to help if you do not mind the help 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. […] As we reported yesterday, BioWare have announced layoffs within the SWTOR. It’s been widely reported  (here’s a perspective from Austin Texas’ own newspaper), but one extra detail that’s come out is that Senior Community Coordinator Stephen Reid is one of those who has been laid off. […]

  2. […] for doomsayers and whingers everywhere. The news of an undisclosed number of employees being laid off from Bioware Austin is seen by some as the latest nail in a coffin that certain people have been building out of thin […]

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