It began with a few twitter messages from Duke Nukem co-creator George Brussard, foreshadowing of some massive cuts coming for those employed at Sony Online Entertainment. Brussard wrote that “Word that Sony Online Entertainment Seattle is having layoffs and that studio closure is possible. To be more clear, the layoffs may be SOE wide and not just limited to Seattle.” He later added, “SOE Seattle and other studios (Denver is rumored) will be closed tomorrow. Good luck to all impacted.”
After several online publications and industry analysts weighed in on the possible extent of the lay-offs, Sony has released an official statement on the matter with an exact figure. In total, 205 employees across the board have been laid off, with the company closing its studios in Seattle (The Agency), Denver (Free Realms, Star Wars Galaxies, Clone Wars, Everquest) and Tucson (PoxNora). The only game whose fate is certain is the espionage-MMO The Agency, which has been canceled as part of the restructuring. Below is the official statement from the publisher, courtesy of IndustryGamers.
“As part of a strategic decision to reduce costs and streamline its global workforce, SOE announced today that it will eliminate 205 positions and close its Denver, Seattle and Tucson studios. 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.
“This strategic decision will have no impact on SOE’s current portfolio of live games; additionally SOE will transition development efforts for the Denver and Tucson studios’ suite of products to its San Diego headquarters. This strategic alignment of development resources better positions SOE to remain a global leader in online gaming and deliver on its promise of creating entertaining games for players of all ages, and servicing the 20 million players that visited SOE servers in just the past year.”