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NCSoft makes ‘staff reductions’ at Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet

NCSoft has announced it will be making "staff reductions" at Guild Wars 2 developer, ArenaNet.

According to Kotaku, an email sent to ArenaNet employees from NCSoft’s CEO Songyee Yoon said: "Our 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."

"We can confirm that due to the cancellation of unannounced projects, ArenaNet will make staff reductions," a statement to GI.biz said. "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 cancelled."

In an illuminating thread on Twitter, lead game designer Jennifer Scheurle said [staff] "are not being shuffled out right away, decisions are pending" and acknowledged "ArenaNet has been very very transparent with us today in the meetings, which is something I appreciate very much".

Jessica Price, a Former Guild Wars 2 writer who was controversially fired last year, said the layoffs were "not surprising".

"[ArenaNet] had two major projects in the works when I was there. One was indefinitely suspended while I was still there. For those of us working on GW2, our mandate was essentially to make it look like there was the same level of resources devoted to GW2, when they were actually steadily moving people off of it onto the other projects.

"It was bad enough that at one point we were told we could only have one cinematic for Ep5 (All or Nothing), which, given that it was the climax of the season and had more heavy emotional beats than anything else we’d done (at least while I was there), was devastating," Price added.

NCSoft has been making cuts elsewhere, too. The South Korean online game publisher reportedly laid off an "undisclosed number" of staff from its American San Mateo studio, Iron Tiger Studios just last month.

These latest layoffs sadly come on the back of several other closures and cutbacks we’ve seen in the last few months. Finnish studio Next Games recently announced it is laying off 26 staff after it reviewed "the cost structure of the company’s operations", and Activision recently laid off 8 per cent of its staff – 775 people.

Other closures include AER Memories of Old developer, Forgotten Key, Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale developer, Define Human Studios, Daybreak, Starbreeze, Bandai Namco Vancouver, and Trion Worlds, best known for its MMO games. The media too has been affected, with the shuttering of leading strategy guides publisher Prima Games and Future’s GamesMaster and Games™ magazines.

Telltale Games laid off the majority of its staff in a ‘majority studio closure’ back in September. 25 employees remained at the company, though most projects have reportedly been cancelled, and subsequent reports suggest even the skeleton crew have now been let go. The layoffs were confirmed via a tweet on the official Telltale Games account, blaming a year ‘marked by insurmountable challenges’ for the decision.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond.

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