Layoffs At BioWare, SWTOR Team Restructuring Confirmed
Rumors that Star Wars: The Old Republic has kind of fizzled out have dogged BioWare and EA for months. Those rumors were confirmed by their recent investor call when a crunch of the numbers showed that they had apparently lost some 400,000 customers between February and April. Despite this, BioWare has insisted things are fine, and as recently as May 10th were claiming that the game is “solid and profitable“, but their actions belie that claim. They’ve been aggressively advertising SWTOR, offering very frequent promotions, like the multiple free weekends – including just last weekend – suggesting some desperation behind the scenes.
And now the other shoe drops. In a post earlier today on the official SWTOR community forums, BioWare cofounders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka confirmed rumors that the company had begun laying off members of the SWTOR team. “Since you’re reading this,” the statement says, “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.”
The statement doesn’t put any names or numbers to these layoffs, instead focusing on the kind of chipper optimism that usually accompanies announcements like this. “Looking forward,” the statement continues, “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.”
They are, of course, obviously going to say this. No company, no matter how dire the circumstances, is going to admit that the hangman’s noose is looming, particularly as they need to reassure investors who may see this action as a sign that things are only going to get worse. The statement promises “many strong initiatives planned for cool new content and new features,” which it must be said are absolutely necessary in order to lure people in. But the question now is whether or not the aroma of failure is too powerful, and enough gamers decide to wait around to see if SWTOR eventually goes free to play. If enough do, BioWare’s hand may be essentially forced.
Frankly, after this news, I’d say it’s probably safe to begin speculating on when, not if, SWTOR will go F2P.
We will be reaching out for further comment, and will be sharing what, if anything, BioWare has further to say. Naturally, our hearts go out to those who received their pink slips, and we wish them the best.
Here’s that official statement in full:
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.
Greg and Ray