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BioWare's  SWTOR  team hit with layoffs after restructuring
BioWare's SWTOR team hit with layoffs after restructuring
May 22, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

May 22, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
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Five months after launching Star Wars: The Old Republic, BioWare has laid off an unspecified number of employees from the team that worked on its first MMO due to restructuring.

The restructuring will only affect BioWare Austin, the primary developer of the game (though BioWare Edmonton also assisted with the title). The Electronic Arts subsidiary has not disclosed what its restructuring entailed, but it's common for many companies to trim their teams after an MMO's launch.

Electronic Arts also declined to say how many workers have been impacted, but it told Gamasutra that some will be able to join other projects within the company, while others will leave. "These are very difficult decisions, but it allows us to focus our staff to maintain and grow Star Wars: The Old Republic," said a representative.

This news follows shortly after Electronic Arts revealed that its subscriber numbers for Star Wars: The Old Republic have slipped recently, falling from 1.7 million paid members in February to 1.3 million. The publisher blamed the drop-off on fewer trial players and on casual customers who decided to not keep their subscriptions going.

"Impacting people's lives this way is always very hard, but we're ensuring the affected people are treated with dignity, fairness, and respect," said the company's CEO Ray Muzyka and vice president Greg Zeschuk in a joint statement.

The two co-founders claim they still have "a very substantial development team" working on supporting and growing Star Wars: The Old Republic.


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Comments


Rob Wright
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What a train wreck. I guess this proves my theory that the quickest way to ruin a good thing in gaming is to start chasing WoW dollars with a big-budget MMO.

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Rob Wright
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Especially when you spend millions on trailers with high quality animation that, while absolutely amazing, are not indicative of the MMO gameplay and do nothing other than raise gamer expectations ridiculously high.

Michael Lubker
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It's not "respectful" to not even say how many you're laying off.

Kale Menges
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I don't want to hear anyone say they didn't see this coming...

Eric Geer
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I blame it on on-rails starship battles...

Trent Tait
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They have been saying for a long time that they have something big coming in the way of starship battles. However that's not what most people complain about. It's the end game and PvP etc.

However if the "something big" invovles it stays on rails I'll lay some blame there too.

I'm staying till I finish all 8 stories. If they don't have an expansion by then so be it.

John McMahon
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MMOs are just a bad market, IMO. I just don;t understand why companies like MGM, EA, BioWare, etc are chasing this magical goal that they think will just loads of people clamoring to give them money.

I'm not saying don't try to improve on what WoW has done, but don't expect unprecedented success.

Michael Wenk
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The margins on these games are incredible. Blizzard reported 50% margins on WoW, and I remember back in the day, EA had 40-60% on Ultima Online (with a grand total of 240k subs.)

Even SWTOR is probably making a profit, even with its sub #s being down. Remember before launch, EA reported that they hoped that SWTOR would get around 500k people and that number would be a good amount of profit for the. So I do not understand why people seem to think that being just shy of 3X that number, that SWTOR is a failure. I see the fact that since SWTOR launched and had 1.8 million people that their CS and equipment costs will be higher, but I imagine that along with head count, they will combine equipment and lower that costs.

Also, this kind of game provides steady income as opposed to the feast or famine approach with other video game properties. That reason and the margins are why you see so many companies trying to chase MMOs.

Its common for any game company to cut people after the launch of any title. So I really don't know why this is headlining news.

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Joe McGinn
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Subscription-model MMOs are a bad market, made worse by the seductive margins on the few (the one?) success as Michael mentions above.

MMOs are healthy as bulls though. Free-to-play core gaming may be the fastest-growing segment out there. I would absolutely invest in free-to-play MMOs.

Trent Tait
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@Dave Smith: Where did you get the info that the game hasn't made a profit yet?

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Joe McGinn
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@Dave - yes, clearly the game is not profitable as a whole, and won't be for quite some time if ever.

At this point, however, operating profitability is the goal (i.e., earning more every month than they are spending) and I suspect that's the planning behind the layoffs.

Trent Tait
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I can't help feel that if they had reigned in the size of the worlds and included the hi-res textures and made this a single player game, it would have been a smash hit.

At least the Aussie servers are still highly populated.

Nikola Kasabov
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"Even SWTOR is probably making a profit, even with its sub #s being down. Remember before launch, EA reported that they hoped that SWTOR would get around 500k people and that number would be a good amount of profit for the. So I do not understand why people seem to think that being just shy of 3X that number, that SWTOR is a failure."

Michael Wenk thats not true. EA actually said they need 500k subs to break even and with 1mill subs they will be on profit "but nothing to write home about" as they(EA) worded it. And the server population load dropped in times between the date when they measured 1.3mill subs and today. Of course this doesn't mean they have less subs now but this shows the trend and that subs will continue to drop faster than last Q if they are to follow they server pop trend (and they do follow it until now).


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