Update 3, Monday 2/25: The layoffs have begun. Several former ArenaNet employees have broken the news of their departures via Twitter (here, here, here, and here, and here to name a few, with the last one stating that over a hundred people were let go). In addition, “In light of current events at the studio,” the release of the new mount, the Warclaw, has been delayed, as stated in a forum post.
Update 2: Another statement from NCSoft Friday morning:
- “We can confirm that due to the cancellation of unannounced projects, ArenaNet will make staff reductions. This is part of a larger organizational restructuring within NCSoft in the West, but the Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 game services will not be affected, nor is any upcoming game content canceled.”
Update 1: Sources at ArenaNet are confirming that layoffs are in the works. A statement was posted to the Guild Wars 2 forums Thursday evening:
- We know you have a lot of questions about the future of Guild Wars 2. We want to share with you what to expect moving forward for the game. First and foremost, we are still fully committed to all of our players and ongoing support of the game. We will be moving directly from Living World Season 4 into Season 5 as promised, and we plan to continue a regular cadence of updates and releases.
- We know Guild Wars 2 is important to you, and as our players, you are important to us. Rest assured that we are still working to add great new content to the game. We are deeply grateful to all of you for your support during this difficult time.
Original story: Kotaku’s Jason Schreier — who broke the news of the Activision Blizzard layoffs before they were made official two weeks ago — is now reporting that Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet is also preparing to lay off a number of employees. Schreier has obtained an email from NCSoft CEO Songyee Yoon that was sent to ArenaNet employees and paints a grim picture of the future of the Seattle-based developer, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Korean publisher.
Yoon’s letter states that
“live game business revenue is declining as our franchises age, delays in development on PC and mobile have created further drains against our revenue projects, while our operating costs in the west have increased. Where we are is not sustainable, and is not going to set us up for future success.”
Yoon goes on to say that “restructuring, cost-cutting, and strategic realignments” are likely in the near future and that costs will be cut “across the organization.” Schreier reports that ArenaNet CEO Mike O’Brien is meeting with staff members this afternoon to discuss the layoffs. ArenaNet currently employs approximately 400 people.
NCSoft as a whole had a poor Q4 2018 from a sales perspective, as evidenced by its most recent financial report. While Guild Wars 2’s numbers were low, they didn’t seem out of line with what I expected in the space between expansions. The game has had worse, longer, stretches before, and it wouldn’t seem like now would be time to push the panic button. It’s possible that forecasts for the game’s future revenue — possibly fueled by the choice to not release an expansion this year — might have had some effect on the decisions being made by NCSoft.
We’ll update this story as more information becomes known.