[UPDATE: Brighton studio team downsizing confirmed at end of story.]
While the company has still to officially confirm the rumoured closure of its Brighton, UK games development studio, big changes are afoot at NCsoft – the Korean-owned MMO firm has announced the formation of a new subsidiary which will take over the management of all its teams in the West.
NC West will boast a brand new corporate structure and a new HQ in Seattle that will be open by the end of 2008.
The move comes to give NCsoft "a dedicated focus towards becoming the world’s premier western publisher of MMOs" the company said in an official announcement. Existing publishing and development subsidiaries NC Interactive, NC Europe, NC Austin, and ArenaNet will be led as a unified organisation under the NC West banner.
NC West will be led by Chris Chung (former NC Interactive head) as CEO, Jeff Strain (formerly the president and co-founder of ArenaNet) as president, product development, David Reid (former vice-president, marketing for North America) as president, publishing, and Patrick Wyatt (founder of ArenaNet and web technology guru at the firm) as CTO. Chung will report directly to NCsoft CEO Taek Jin Kim.
For Europe, the firm said "as yet unannounced European executives" would be named, suggesting that it will soon formally clarify what exactly – or, at least, officially – is occuring at its Brighton office, HQ for the NC Europe team.
"We are confident that by combining our subsidiaries into a unified global organisation under Chris Chung’s leadership, NC West will become a more powerful force to be reckoned with in the western MMO market," said NCsoft CEO TJ Kim.
"There is an unparalleled opportunity for growth in the massively multiplayer online market," added Chung. "By combining the strength of our US and European teams, NCsoft has the best global infrastructure to win in new and existing markets, and the best developer talent capable of creating blockbuster MMO franchises."
However, the combination of businesses has already lead many to expect that layoffs are on the way – along with the downsizing of the Brighton development team, just last month NC Austin lost 21 staff after NCsoft announced a fall in profits of over 40 per cent.
UPDATE: Speaking with Kotaku after the announcement, NCsoft has confirmed that 58 jobs are most likely to be lost at NC Europe’s Brighton development team following the cancellation of an unannounced MMO. The move, said David Reid, comes as NCsoft looks to focus on top-tier banner MMOs and less ‘lighter’ games.