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SOE Hit With 205 Layoffs, Three Studio Closures,  Agency  Cancelled
SOE Hit With 205 Layoffs, Three Studio Closures, Agency Cancelled
March 31, 2011 | By Kris Graft

DC Universe Online house Sony Online Entertainment confirmed to Gamasutra that it is closing its Denver, Seattle and Tucson studios, cutting 205 jobs and cancelling the long-awaited The Agency.

An emailed statement added, "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," the company added.

SOE said the decision will have "no impact" on games currently operating. Development efforts that were taking place at the Denver and Tucson studios will be transferred to the company's San Diego headquarters.

The company said the streamlining will help SOE service its 20 million players it has hosted over the past year.

Originally revealed in 2007 and under development at SOE Seattle, The Agency was an ambitious PC and PlayStation 3 MMO that put players in the role of spies. Rumors of development challenges had emerged during the course of the game's production that brought into question whether the game would see the light of day.

SOE's Tuscon studio had developed a Facebook spin-off of the game with The Agency: Covert Ops. SOE Denver created trading card games including Free Realms Trading Card Game and Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures: Card Commander.

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Mike Roy
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Yes, that makes sense... Cancel The Agency that people have been begging for, and green light a Planetside property. SOE you are doomed. You just don't get it.

Joe kennedy
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First off, does make sense to cancel a project that has yet too manifest itself for almost 6 + years plus in development!!! This product started sometime in 2005 and dude,'s 2011!!!

This isn't Blizzard where speaking of plus, the competitive nature of not shipping something in a reasonable time frame then becomes obsolete. The question then becomes, who's to blame for this? I think it's a combination of issues stemming from poor construction of a development team to a great deal of SOE president and project managers not knowing any better. A lot of money has truly gone down the tubes with these projects. I'm actually shocked that these projects weren't canceled sooner.

I'd really like to know who's the guy that is getting paid to convince the execs that progress is actually being made in a timely manner to justify the costs year after year in funding these endeavors?

This is a major problem with publishers in the industry!!! They don't know how to put competent developers behind the wheel of development and then expect yield success in revenues when products ship, in this case it didn't even make the shelves. These guys had plenty of time.

Lets look at a little history,... the first group of rock stars that started this project:

Yahhta yahhta yahhta, development bibles with individuals that haven't ship titles in years,..they either got fired from the first round of development after sucking years production costs from SOE.

Where are they now,......

Same group of guys that got canned at Microsoft for not being able to deliver on that MMO project. Get my drift? Then after the 2nd round of developers, lord knows who.

I'm not suggesting that developing hit titles is an easy feet to accomplish but just pointing out the obvious. If SOE wanted to increase the chances & success of a new IP in the market then they should have hired credible more competent developers that have experience in shipping products.

Lo Pan
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Another case of bad management coupled with mediocre execution. Devs need to understand that mediocre results is the fastest way to unemployment. Management needs to do its homework on preventing issues that has sunk a myriad of games in this space.

Joe kennedy
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Amen brother!!!!!

Here's the absurd part. These cats should get fired for sinking these projects but they'll keep their jobs and do it all over again and in some cases when they leave; will infect another publishing giant. What's happen to this industry?

Have we done away with credibility checks on both management and developers?

Aaron Truehitt
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Why not just dump some of those other mediocre MMO titles that you put forth zero effort in, such as Vanguard and Star Wars Galaxies?

Bart Stewart
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Wow. Good luck to those who were let go.

I was looking forward to The Agency. It was going to try something different by design: instead of forcing players to choose a role-based "class" for their characters from which there is no escape, The Agency would have let you pick your character's class dynamically according to the outfit you choose to wear.

I wanted to see if this might encourage other MMORPG developers to stop thinking they're required to clone the old class/level model in their games. Without The Agency, that becomes a harder sell.

Paul Peak
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There is still Firefall which also has a gear based role system and has the added benefit of being free-to-play. It was looking like it would get released before Agency prior to this news.

Bart Stewart
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In fairness, Red 5 Studios doesn't have the visibility of SOE.

On the other hand, unlike SOE they might actually ship their game. So I'll definitely be watching to see how people respond to the concept of roles being determined (or at least strongly affected) by the gear selected.

Thanks for the pointer.

Todd Masten
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Sad, and until they restructure from the top down, SOE will continue to fall further and further into obscurity.

Ryan Christensen
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Saddened, but I never understood SOE creating a Tucson studio, that would have been much more successful and many more skilled game developers if they built it in Phoenix. Currently THQ runs the entirety of Phoenix that is an hour out of CA and 30-40% less labor costs, same skill if not more due to the lack of game companies in Phoenix, the 5th largest metropolis in the US.

Christopher Enderle
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Maybe they didn't want to have to compete with THQ for employees. That might have been a valid point considering

Joe McGinn
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Good thing Sony is not putting out a new game device this year and don't need game developers ... oh wait.

martil savage
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To quote Donald Trump - "Smed YOUR FIRED"