Rumor: Massive layoffs at Sony Online Entertainment [Update]

As much as a third of Sony's MMO-making division has been laid off, according to rumours, and three studios may be outright closed.

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[Update 12:30pm - XdM] An anonymous source at Sony Online Entertainment tells Shacknews that rumors of layoffs and the cancellation of The Agency are accurate. According to the source, a number of the layoffs also reduced the size of the EverQuest 2 team and although the Planetside Next team also took some layoffs, the project is alive and well.

[Original Story - AO] Rumours are circulating that Sony Online Entertainment, the company's MMO-centric division, has been hit with massive layoffs and three studios have been outright closed.

The first word came from 3D Realms veteran George Broussard, who tweeted, "Word that Sony Online Entertainment Seattle is having layoffs and that studio closure is possible."

A shadowy Kotaku source claims that Sony's Seattle, Denver and Tuscon studios are closing. The three are respectively responsible for The Agency, Magic: The Gathering - Tactics, and Pox Nora, among other games.

Kotaku also reports that half of the DC Universe Online studio Austin were let go, as well as many at EverQuest II studio San Diego.

All in all, the layoffs are said to have reduced Sony Online Entertainment's workforce by a third.

SOE Seattle's action-espionage MMORPG The Agency was announced back in 2007 but has still yet to see the light of day, suffering repeated delays. It's not quite clear how these supposed layoffs and will affect the game, which is expected in the second of this year, but it can't be good news. The fate of Planetside Next, SOE's follow-up to MMO shooter Planetside, is also unknown for now.

Sony has yet to officially confirm these rumours.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 31, 2011 6:15 AM

    Comment on Rumor: Massive layoffs at Sony Online Entertainment, by Alice O'Connor.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 6:20 AM

      The fate of Planetside Next, SOE's follow-up to MMO shooter Planetside, is also unknown for now.

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!!!

      Fuck, PLEASE don't let this slip away. I half expect some news like this to trickle through, seeing as we have seen zero progress in the last couple months.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 6:41 AM

        no worries, ccp plans to deliver dust514 next year. That'll get your mmo shooter covered (sadly, console based).

        • reply
          March 31, 2011 6:51 AM

          I don't doubt that Dust will be awesome, but still doesn't take the place of my beloved PS.

          This was my most anticipated game of 2011. Thanks for ruining my year Alice!

          • reply
            March 31, 2011 7:09 AM

            Really? I know nerfblox was getting the hype train rolling, but the media that was coming out, and the methodology in which it was being released, did not appear to be from a source that was in a "good" position. If anything it seemed like --- OH SHIT WE'RE ABOUT TO LOSE OUR JOBS, LETS THROW OUT SOME BULLSHIT AND SEE IF WE CAN DRUM UP ENOUGH HYPE TO SAVE OURSELVES!!

            There was little to no acknowledgment that a new planetside was even in the works. Then suddenly we get three pictures and notification that there already in beta?

            • reply
              March 31, 2011 7:28 AM

              Oh, I agree that everything regarding the sequel was shady to say the least. We had a couple crappy renders of models and pretty much nothing else. I thought they were waiting to have a huge official announcement at some upcoming event or something.

              If it wasn't for the interview with Smedley who seemed to go into a bit more detail regarding the project, and even to give a release date - I wouldn't have got my panties in a knot. Shit, the dude said it was releasing this month. Asshole.

              I'm just a rabid fan of the original game that's foaming at the mouth to get a remake or sequel. With this announcement regarding layoffs, I completely agree in hindsight that all of the media was probably done in a desperate attempt to calm fears or gather more funds.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 6:28 AM

      I guess quitting EQ2 was the right decision then! Considering they'd already cut the staff in half back in November, if done so again they'll probably be left with just a handful (if that) of people supporting / developing. Didn't help that the last 2 expansions were incredibly lacklustre.

      Still, a shame.. hope they all manage to find work again soon enough.

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      March 31, 2011 6:31 AM

      I couldn't work at SOE. Everyday I'd ask if they shouldn't consider relaunching SWG with the NGE rolled back.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 6:31 AM

        SWG's time has passed. The only reason it is not completely dead is that ToR isn't out yet.

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          March 31, 2011 6:43 AM

          ToR is the exact reason why I'd be pushing for SWG to return to it's overly social roots. ToR is everything the NGE wanted to be.

      • Zek
        reply
        March 31, 2011 8:12 AM

        SWG had some interesting ideas but it was never a very good game, with or without the NGE. There's a reason they went for a hail mary pass with those sweeping changes in the first place.

        • reply
          March 31, 2011 8:27 AM

          I would still argue that SWG would be more viable without the NGE than with it. It needed work but you can't improve something by getting rid of the stuff it did right.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 6:32 AM

      so that's what happens when you keep making shitty games

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 6:35 AM

      The EQ2 teams was already pretty much halved last year, if they do the same again they'll only be left with a handful (if that) of devs. Guess I was right to quit back in November.. 2 lacklustre expansion packs and the general direction of the game was all over the place (but generally heading downhill)

      Still, a real shame for some of the great talent they had there - hope they all manage to find new work soon!

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 6:36 AM

        Doh.. nuke please.. thought my original post had been eaten.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 7:05 AM

      I'd say that SOE has been in shambles for years, I'm surprised they've held out this long. Perfect example: they just "launched" Free Realms on the PS3--a game that's been on PC's for several years now--and despite their announcement to do this nearly a year ago, the servers have been down since launch day so no one can actually play the game. I've heard a number people express interest in checking out the PS3 version; but with the servers down since launch, how many people are going to still be interested by the time things are up and running. Sounds a lot like the Fat Princess launch... Pathetic.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 11:42 AM

        FRPS3 servers haven't had any widespread failures or long offline periods, high load may stop some from getting in perhaps.

        • reply
          March 31, 2011 12:05 PM

          also hardware and internet settings not allowing all the traffic through would cause issues

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 8:06 AM

      I don't comment on rumors.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 10:33 AM

      Layoffs were expected, much later than I had expected though. Their main problem is that they banked on the success of EQ not realizing that they bought that.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 3:49 PM


      Just as long as they don't shitcan Planetside 2.......

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      March 31, 2011 4:18 PM

      Sony's confirming it with a statement handed to various other news outlets:

      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.


      http://www.giantbomb.com/news/sony-online-lays-off-more-than-200-cancels-the-agency/3015/
      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-03-31-sony-confirms-the-agency-is-cancelled

    • reply
      April 1, 2011 12:03 AM

      Guess DC Universe didn't do very well. Not surprised. It didn't look like it would. I think the writing is on the wall for SOE. They can release all the MMO's they like, but they aren't going to get any traction. Only The Old Republic can save us from WoW.

      Even now, a lone rebel Corellian cruiser is attempting to repel several star destroyers as it enters orbit around Tatooine. On board the lead star destroyer, a dark sith--once named Mike Morhaime--called now Darth Selloutus attempts to recapture the stolen data disc of hope stolen by the rebel alliance led by the often-pompous EA. They seek to find the war hero, Bioware, amidst the sands of Tatooine and have them lead the rebels to victory. Elsewhere, deep in a palace on the capital world of Coruscant, the Emperor, Darth IfNotCallofDutyThenFireThemus rubs his hands together, cackling to himself. "Games will soon be completely under my control and I'll rob them ALL of fun. Not just the Guitar Hero's and Tony Hawk's and Blur's, but ALL will be drained of their fun! I will milk them all until nothing but rehashes of the same games come year after year and once I've done that a few years, there'll be no games left to amuse or entertain anyone. And then... we shall have... peace... in the galaxy..."

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      April 1, 2011 12:25 AM

      The SOE studio in Tucson was also shut down. They basically handled the Poxnora MMO.

      http://azstarnet.com/business/local/article_0ed8bc8f-e575-5935-aa81-559ec7ad19f0.html