Continued Shakeups on The Old Republic Team

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Posted by patrickklepek (3504 posts) -
EA pinned much of its future on the success of The Old Republic. It hasn't been a runaway hit.

Electronic Arts has kind of sort of acknowledged reports of layoffs at BioWare Austin, the studio responsible for last year’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. The company did not provide many details.

“As with the launch of any MMO, the size and skillset of the teams needed to maintain the game is different than the ones that built it,” said the company in an emailed statement this afternoon.

Shakeups within BioWare Austin were first announced in May, and EA claims today’s reports are simply part of that plan.

“Starting in May, there have been staff reductions in the BioWare Austin studio,” said the company. “Some people have been platooned to other projects at BioWare Austin and EA Sports/Austin. Others have been released---qualifying personnel receive severance and outplacement assistance.”

EA was unwilling to disclose specifics of the staff reductions for The Old Republic Team.

“We aren’t going into any other details at this time,” said the publisher.

The company did confirm the departure of executive producer and MMO veteran Rich Vogel, who previously helped launch Meridian 59, Ultima Online, and Star Wars Galaxies. EA said Vogel left in June.

Details on the path forward for The Old Republic are coming “in the weeks ahead.” EA said it hopes to deliver new content more frequently to players, as EA tries to cling to the Star Wars and MMO fans still playing.

Staff
#1 Posted by patrickklepek (3504 posts) -
EA pinned much of its future on the success of The Old Republic. It hasn't been a runaway hit.

Electronic Arts has kind of sort of acknowledged reports of layoffs at BioWare Austin, the studio responsible for last year’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. The company did not provide many details.

“As with the launch of any MMO, the size and skillset of the teams needed to maintain the game is different than the ones that built it,” said the company in an emailed statement this afternoon.

Shakeups within BioWare Austin were first announced in May, and EA claims today’s reports are simply part of that plan.

“Starting in May, there have been staff reductions in the BioWare Austin studio,” said the company. “Some people have been platooned to other projects at BioWare Austin and EA Sports/Austin. Others have been released---qualifying personnel receive severance and outplacement assistance.”

EA was unwilling to disclose specifics of the staff reductions for The Old Republic Team.

“We aren’t going into any other details at this time,” said the publisher.

The company did confirm the departure of executive producer and MMO veteran Rich Vogel, who previously helped launch Meridian 59, Ultima Online, and Star Wars Galaxies. EA said Vogel left in June.

Details on the path forward for The Old Republic are coming “in the weeks ahead.” EA said it hopes to deliver new content more frequently to players, as EA tries to cling to the Star Wars and MMO fans still playing.

Staff
#2 Posted by micfiygd (23 posts) -

what a shame

#3 Posted by Morden2261 (277 posts) -

Launching an MMO these days is a rough, rough business.

#4 Edited by raiden2000 (42 posts) -

This is a real shame, my thoughts go out to all those affected.

#5 Posted by theimmortalbum (470 posts) -

I feel like this is not going to end well for SWTOR. Which is somewhat of a shame - I liked the story hooks but I'm beyond tired of typical MMO gameplay.

Online
#6 Posted by Rohok (554 posts) -

Maybe if they stopped putting out shitty video games EA wouldn't be in such a rough spot. Also TOR was awful. My friend and I played it to level 15 in the free to play thing and holy shit was it basic and full of MMO stereotypes. I don't understand how anyone thought it was good at all. Most of it was grinding and fetch quests, and the dialogue that was there was all indicative of singleplayer- IE, "/I/ will handle this, sir." "/I/ can stop him." "/I/ am the only one who can do this." Where was the WE the entire game? Not to mention Jedi Knight was portrayed as the main character regardless of what class you chose.

Terrible Star Wars game, terrible MMO, terrible Bioware game.

#7 Posted by iAmJohn (6110 posts) -

CL60 and the other members of the Old Republic Defense Force show up to tell us how this doesn't matter and says nothing about the health or quality of the game in 3... 2...

Online
#8 Posted by Dagbiker (6939 posts) -

I always wanted to work on a video game, glad I didn't.

#9 Posted by TheHT (10924 posts) -

I had a dream The Old Republic became "Free to Level 28" and then a few days later became "Free to Level 38" and I remember distinctly thinking "sweet! it's only a matter of time!"

Though I want the game to be free-to-play, I can't help but feel bad about how it all happened. The production quality is really high, and getting it all for free just doesn't seem to fit like it does with some other games.

If they just released the game in segments with the "buy it once without a subscription" model and released other groups of classes/other stories as expansions, I would have purchased it all no question, regardless of the WoW style gameplay (the story bits alone would make it a worthwhile purchase). I just can't get down with monthly subscriptions though.

The only subsciption thing I've ever gotten was Playstation Plus, and that was easily justfied ala Steam Sale Logic ("if I don't buy it, I'm losing money").

#10 Posted by ajamafalous (11866 posts) -
@Rohok said:

Maybe if they stopped putting out shitty video games EA wouldn't be in such a rough spot. Also TOR was awful. My friend and I played it to level 15 in the free to play thing and holy shit was it basic and full of MMO stereotypes. I don't understand how anyone thought it was good at all. Most of it was grinding and fetch quests, and the dialogue that was there was all indicative of singleplayer- IE, "/I/ will handle this, sir." "/I/ can stop him." "/I/ am the only one who can do this." Where was the WE the entire game? Not to mention Jedi Knight was portrayed as the main character regardless of what class you chose.

Terrible Star Wars game, terrible MMO, terrible Bioware game.

I'm no TOR apologist or defense force member but can't help but point out that much of what you said is wrong.
Online
#11 Posted by Quantical (337 posts) -

I was on the verge of signing up for another six months but sod it, I just cancelled it instead. It's a promising game that ends up the same way all MMORPG's do at the moment.

#12 Posted by blastershift (65 posts) -

Well The Secret World and WoW are keeping me happy.

Time to let this game head to the bookshelf of shame.

#13 Edited by Rohok (554 posts) -

@ajamafalous said:

@Rohok said:

Maybe if they stopped putting out shitty video games EA wouldn't be in such a rough spot. Also TOR was awful. My friend and I played it to level 15 in the free to play thing and holy shit was it basic and full of MMO stereotypes. I don't understand how anyone thought it was good at all. Most of it was grinding and fetch quests, and the dialogue that was there was all indicative of singleplayer- IE, "/I/ will handle this, sir." "/I/ can stop him." "/I/ am the only one who can do this." Where was the WE the entire game? Not to mention Jedi Knight was portrayed as the main character regardless of what class you chose.

Terrible Star Wars game, terrible MMO, terrible Bioware game.

I'm no TOR apologist or defense force member but can't help but point out that much of what you said is wrong.

You obviously haven't played it then with a Jedi Knight in your party. They're always center screen and if you play trooper you get all the dumb grunt lines. It was pathetic. Why didn't they just give us KOTOR 3 with coop? They're literally making us pay 15 dollars a month just to see hundreds of other people running around doing the same tasks and missions we are and calling themselves the saviors of the republic.

My question is why do people think that's good? A coop KOTOR 3 game with a multiplayer versus mode where you can use your singleplayer character could've done the same thing as TOR, without the monthly fee and on consoles too for people who like that. What does TOR bring to the table that a coop KOTOR 3 doesn't? Absolutely nothing.

Not to mention I'm pretty sure the max group size is 4 players. Where is the MMO in that? I guess I'm the only one who sees the stupidity in this game.

#14 Posted by Sackmanjones (4652 posts) -

Who didn't see this coming.

Still sad though, hope the best for the people laid off

#15 Posted by Maitimo (179 posts) -

This is probably the start of a long, dark time for the TOR team; can't see the game's subscriber situation improving.

#16 Posted by Shenanigans19 (51 posts) -

I had such high hopes for this game but it sure didn't take long for it to get old. Once the coolness of the fully voiced dialogue wore off what was left was a whole lot of tedious grind/fetch quests. The flashpoints were really fun but there were just too few of those to make up for the hundreds of monotonous quests.

#17 Posted by Duxa (158 posts) -

Not surprising for how disappointing TOR was.

#18 Posted by Cincaid (2953 posts) -

Always sad to see people lose their jobs, even if it's from a game I have no interest in.

Also, it seems this is the inevitable route for all MMOs. Only 7 months ago people were fired up and ready for this thing to launch, and today more layoffs (among them a veteran Executive Producer) give me the foreboding feeling that within the next 6 months the game will fully go F2P, and shut down within a year or two. I'd love to be proven wrong by the way, I'm not saying this to be rude.

I can't help to see similar reactions today towards upcoming MMOs, such as Guild Wars 2. People are fired up, saying "this time it will be different!", and admittedly it will probably go better considering GW2 has no monthly subscription (even if I'm confident that's not what keeps the MMO veterans away in the end). Nonetheless, it will be damn interesting to see what shape Guild Wars 2 is in around christmas.

I haven't played a MMO since the Wrath of the Lich King expansion to WoW, so I'm mostly a curious bystander nowadays. Is the MMO market milked dry? Will anything topple the WoW-mountain (that some claim is already crumbling down)? What if Blizzard's next MMO, Titan, sees itself in these circumstances within months after its release?

An interesting genre, to say the least.

#19 Posted by Cybexx (1154 posts) -

Don't worry guys it was all part of the plan; the plan to fire people when subscriptions went south. I wonder if they are going to bother with expansions at this point.

#20 Edited by Fattony12000 (7092 posts) -

I think we'll be seeing full free to play sooner, rather than later...

20/12/11: Game is released.

10/07/12: Game is now free up to level 15.

That's 6 months and 20 days from full price to free trial, for a game that cost something in the region of $175 million.

February, 2012: 1.7 million subs.

May, 2012: 1.3 million subs.

July, 2012: I would guess at a number less than 1 million subs.

Sooner, rather than later.

Being forced to go free to play within a year of launch, on a game that cost that much to make. That means staff gotta go, and that means I hate EA for running their shit so poorly.

#21 Edited by wisdumcube (143 posts) -

I wonder just how bad Bioware is floundering because of this. don't think EA has touted their numbers since March (for obvious reasons). I would really like to see an estimate. Anyone have any idea what kind user base The Old Republic has now?

#22 Posted by AnEternalEnigma (280 posts) -

I bet those developers who got TOR tattoos feel a little...shameful now.

Online
#23 Posted by MjHealy (1828 posts) -

Common MMO practices really. You need a hell of a lot of people to build a MMO and once it's out you can trim things down. It's a shame to see people lose jobs.

#24 Posted by nickux (1383 posts) -

I wish somebody could go to Bioware and EA could ask some of the higher-ups, how did everyone not see this coming? So sad. 38 Studios is another example of companies not making the best business decisions when it comes to creating an MMO. You can't take 5+ years to make a game based on an aging business model and expect it to magically work.

#25 Posted by jackopm (20 posts) -

This is expected; the team was so huge for initial development that there's no way they could keep it that large for maintenance/expansion, especially since the subscriber base isn't growing.

I really enjoyed my month and a half or so with SW:ToR, though even I have canceled my account now. I just ran out of steam and have a billion other games I want time to play, on top of having a big-boy job now. I actually really do enjoy the pleasantly mindless mechanics of MMOs on occasion, especially when they let me zone out and listen to music or a podcast. SW:ToR actually wasn't as good for that, in my opinion, because the story and voice acting was much more prevalent and well done, so I wanted to experience that, taking me out of my boar-killing trance.

Unfortunate for those out of work now; there's a massive development scene in Austin, and I hope they land on their feet. Hopefully their skill sets aren't strictly for making large-scale subscription MMOs, though...

#26 Posted by itsjustclark (26 posts) -

Sad to see this game going the way it is. I enjoyed the main story quest stuff, but the side quest just killed the game for me.

#27 Posted by SomeJerk (3153 posts) -
@nickux said:

You can't take 5+ years to make a game based on an aging business model and expect it to magically work.

I've already poured Elder Scrolls Online a 40.
 
Hopefully they haven't spent more than a tenth of the SWTOR budget on it.
#28 Posted by Silock (238 posts) -

Its part of your plan? Blizzard must run a very different plan, as all they seem to do is hire people to help them with their MMO ; )

In short? Give it up EA, your desire to conquer every vessel of the gaming market is futile, you are nothing but a mere blight in the gaming world and need to die a quick death. Let us chant, No more EA, No more EA, No more EA!!!!

#29 Posted by triviaman09 (787 posts) -

@Silock said:

Its part of your plan? Blizzard must run a very different plan, as all they seem to do is hire people to help them with their MMO ; )

In short? Give it up EA, your desire to conquer every vessel of the gaming market is futile, you are nothing but a mere blight in the gaming world and need to die a quick death. Let us chant, No more EA, No more EA, No more EA!!!!

You need to relax.

#30 Posted by mangopup (70 posts) -

@Cincaid said:

Always sad to see people lose their jobs, even if it's from a game I have no interest in.

Also, it seems this is the inevitable route for all MMOs. Only 7 months ago people were fired up and ready for this thing to launch, and today more layoffs (among them a veteran Executive Producer) give me the foreboding feeling that within the next 6 months the game will fully go F2P, and shut down within a year or two. I'd love to be proven wrong by the way, I'm not saying this to be rude.

I can't help to see similar reactions today towards upcoming MMOs, such as Guild Wars 2. People are fired up, saying "this time it will be different!", and admittedly it will probably go better considering GW2 has no monthly subscription (even if I'm confident that's not what keeps the MMO veterans away in the end). Nonetheless, it will be damn interesting to see what shape Guild Wars 2 is in around christmas.

I haven't played a MMO since the Wrath of the Lich King expansion to WoW, so I'm mostly a curious bystander nowadays. Is the MMO market milked dry? Will anything topple the WoW-mountain (that some claim is already crumbling down)? What if Blizzard's next MMO, Titan, sees itself in these circumstances within months after its release?

An interesting genre, to say the least.

@Cincaid: I think it's a problem with how these games are designed more so than pricing. It took 7 years to release this game, probably in response to WoW success. Someone at EA said: "We better get on that train!" Unfortunately for them, 7 years is a very long time, a lot has changed in the MMO space. You can't create a WoW clone, do one thing kinda different (in this case full voice acting and dialogue trees) that is sorta cool, but ultimately doesn't actually change any core mechanics. You're still grinding levels, you're still fetching X number of something, and you're still clicking on skills and waiting for cooldowns. People as a whole don't want that kind of gameplay anymore, and if they do, they can just play WoW which has 8 years of content. At this point the people who are working on The Elder Scrolls Online should be saving their money, because that game is definitely not going to rise above it's already lukewarm reception.

The Homogenization of the gameplay in MMOs doesn't help either, MMO shouldn't be a genre, it should be an idea. You simply can not take WoW and slap on a new license property and expect it has 8 million subscriptions.

#31 Posted by xyzygy (9899 posts) -

I saw this coming.

#32 Posted by nickux (1383 posts) -

@SomeJerk said:

@nickux said:

You can't take 5+ years to make a game based on an aging business model and expect it to magically work.

I've already poured Elder Scrolls Online a 40. Hopefully they haven't spent more than a tenth of the SWTOR budget on it.

You're right I forgot about that too. And I don't mean to sound unsympathetic to the people affected. I just think MMO devs need to stop what they're doing right now and adjust their thinking or risk ending up like this.

#33 Posted by Nephrahim (1119 posts) -

Welp.

#34 Edited by EXTomar (4511 posts) -

The problem is that TOR is even more WoW than WoW is right now. A Star Wars themed MMO isn't a terrible idea. The terrible idea was copying 2009 WoW but with a lot of talking in quests.

Guild Wars 2 launch is soon and WoW Mists is going to announce their date very soon too. Those two games are the most progressive and on the bleeding edge of MMO design and put TOR to shame. In particular the "MMOs lack story" schick that TOR was trying to play up have been addressed in multiple ways in both of these games which leaves TOR with little left to trumpet. You've got to be a very big, die hard fan of TOR to continue to pay for a sub now.

#35 Posted by Rhaknar (5939 posts) -

@Silock said:

Its part of your plan? Blizzard must run a very different plan, as all they seem to do is hire people to help them with their MMO ; )

In short? Give it up EA, your desire to conquer every vessel of the gaming market is futile, you are nothing but a mere blight in the gaming world and need to die a quick death. Let us chant, No more EA, No more EA, No more EA!!!!

lol

#36 Posted by PenguinDust (12455 posts) -

It's sad when anyone loses their job, but I believe them when they say the number of people needed to build and launch an MMO are not the same as the number of people required to maintain that MMO. You might need 30 or 40 licensed professionals to build a house, but keeping it looking nice and functioning can be done by 1 or 2 on average.

#37 Posted by d715 (35 posts) -

@SomeJerk said:

@nickux said:

You can't take 5+ years to make a game based on an aging business model and expect it to magically work.

I've already poured Elder Scrolls Online a 40. Hopefully they haven't spent more than a tenth of the SWTOR budget on it.

Bethesda might make some stupid decisions, but they're smart enough to not over budget a game like EA does.

#38 Posted by Marz (5646 posts) -

There's some decent stuff in TOR, the Imperial Agent story is enjoyable and I consider it to be one of the best stories written in a game this year. I like the game enough to still have a subscription but yeah the content is trickling in at a snails pace and i just can't see them fixing that if they are reducing the size of their team in general.

#39 Posted by GalacticPunt (1026 posts) -
My Heart Will Go On
#40 Posted by familyphotoshoot (653 posts) -

I said it would be free to play by the end of the year back in May. Everything points to that being true.

#41 Posted by Smokey_Earhole (473 posts) -

So...The Old Republic still being around a year or two from now? What's everyone's prediction?

#42 Posted by Grimluck343 (1148 posts) -

Remember how this game was supposed to kill WoW?

#43 Posted by Pinworm45 (4088 posts) -

@Grimluck343 said:

Remember how this game was supposed to kill WoW?

No? No one ever said it would. The only thing people ever said was "lol there's no way this game will kill WoW" because they wanted to feel superior to group of people that doesn't actually exist. No one, anywhere, ever thought this game would "kill WoW". Ever.

Seriously. Even google searching "swtor will kill wow" just brings up people being sarcastic and making fun of this non existent group of people.

#44 Edited by Kidavenger (3511 posts) -

@Smokey_Earhole said:

So...The Old Republic still being around a year or two from now? What's everyone's prediction?

Galaxies lasted 8 years; most of that time having less than 100k subscribers; while this game failed to live up to it's potential, it will be around a very long time and it will most likely eventually recoup that initial investment, just don't expect to see much more content created unless something drastically changes for the better; which is highly unlikely.

#45 Posted by ajamafalous (11866 posts) -
@Rohok said:

@ajamafalous said:

@Rohok said:

Maybe if they stopped putting out shitty video games EA wouldn't be in such a rough spot. Also TOR was awful. My friend and I played it to level 15 in the free to play thing and holy shit was it basic and full of MMO stereotypes. I don't understand how anyone thought it was good at all. Most of it was grinding and fetch quests, and the dialogue that was there was all indicative of singleplayer- IE, "/I/ will handle this, sir." "/I/ can stop him." "/I/ am the only one who can do this." Where was the WE the entire game? Not to mention Jedi Knight was portrayed as the main character regardless of what class you chose.

Terrible Star Wars game, terrible MMO, terrible Bioware game.

I'm no TOR apologist or defense force member but can't help but point out that much of what you said is wrong.

You obviously haven't played it then with a Jedi Knight in your party. They're always center screen and if you play trooper you get all the dumb grunt lines. It was pathetic. Why didn't they just give us KOTOR 3 with coop? They're literally making us pay 15 dollars a month just to see hundreds of other people running around doing the same tasks and missions we are and calling themselves the saviors of the republic.

My question is why do people think that's good? A coop KOTOR 3 game with a multiplayer versus mode where you can use your singleplayer character could've done the same thing as TOR, without the monthly fee and on consoles too for people who like that. What does TOR bring to the table that a coop KOTOR 3 doesn't? Absolutely nothing.

Not to mention I'm pretty sure the max group size is 4 players. Where is the MMO in that? I guess I'm the only one who sees the stupidity in this game.

I have played both as a Jedi Knight and with a Jedi Knight in my party while not being one. The "front and center" character is chosen based on who starts the conversation with the NPC. Trooper has the dumb grunt lines because that's the characterization and storyline they gave the trooper (and really, Jedi Consular has much worse lines). 
 
 
I'm not going to reply to the rest of your post because all it is is you being bitter that they made an MMO instead of another KOTOR. If you feel that way, that's fine, but you're not doing yourself any favors by bashing the game form an uninformed position.
Online
#46 Posted by iAmJohn (6110 posts) -

@Smokey_Earhole said:

So...The Old Republic still being around a year or two from now? What's everyone's prediction?

If Lord of the Rings Online is still going as a free-to-play thing, why wouldn't this be?

Online
#47 Posted by Ockman (187 posts) -

“As with the launch of any MMO, the size and skillset of the teams needed to maintain the game is different than the ones that built it,” said the company in an emailed statement this afternoon.

I'm sure the people working on SWTOR all that time were hoping that their years of time and effort working on the game would lead to them not having a job.

#48 Edited by Curious_George (142 posts) -

@Kidavenger said:

@Smokey_Earhole said:

So...The Old Republic still being around a year or two from now? What's everyone's prediction?

Galaxies lasted 8 years; most of that time having less than 100k subscribers; while this game failed to live up to it's potential, it will be around a very long time and it will most likely eventually recoup that initial investment, just don't expect to see much more content created unless something drastically changes for the better; which is highly unlikely.

But Galaxies was also very sandbox focused in design. Once players had the tools there was a lot of entertainment they could create without needing tons of new content from the devs. SWTOR is about the polar opposite of that, in that it's very linear and absolutely dependent on new content. People have stuck around with WoW all these years because Blizzard has constantly injected the game with fresh content. If they do not do the same in SWTOR I believe the game will see an end much sooner than SWG did.

#49 Edited by EXTomar (4511 posts) -

The thing that is different about SWTOR is the license and the amount of money they spent in development. For another game that didn't have an expensive IP license or spent way less money going Free To Play is an easy decision but for SWTOR I suspect that although Bioware could make a strong game going free with paid goodies, they would have to take a huge "write down" switching away from subscriptions as well as have this giant overhead charge for years.

#50 Edited by Kidavenger (3511 posts) -

@Curious_George: I played SWG for almost 2 years, I agree that they did put the onus on the players to make their own fun, but there wasn't enough there to keep the game going for 8 years and a lot of the most interesting things about SWG (the economy, pvp) died with the population, I have no idea how swg lasted as long as it did, but I can see ToR lasting just as long on the Star Wars name alone (people are still buying KOTOR on Steam), it just won't be the same people playing, it will be more like a constant churn of people starting, having fun with the various classes for 2-3 months and then moving on.

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