Earlier this week, it was announced that SWTOR’s Executive Producer, Rich Vogel, was leaving BioWare. Vogel was a part of the BioWare Austin team for seven years, and has been in the industry for over 20. The news was confirmed yesterday when rumors of additional BioWare layoffs were reported by Gamasutra.
EA BioWare issued a statement regarding the layoffs yesterday:
“As we announced in May and detailed at E3, the BioWare Austin team is refining Star Wars: The Old Republic to continue to grow the game and the service.
As with the launch of any MMO, the size and skillset of the teams needed to maintain the game is different than the ones that built it. Starting in May, there have been staff reductions in the BioWare Austin studio. Some people have been platooned to other projects at BioWare Austin and EA SPORTS/Austin. Others have been released – qualifying personnel receive severance and outplacement assistance.
BioWare Austin is currently staffed to ensure the continued delivery of new, high quality game content for The Old Republic, and at a more frequent cadence. In the weeks ahead, we will announce plans for growing The Old Republic with new content, new players and new ways to play.”
Layoff news is rarely of the positive nature, but how is the loyal playerbase of SWTOR taking the news? Continue reading for some community feedback.
Fan responses have been extremely varied. First, we have those who feel that this is all just another sign that a sinking ship is in sight:
“While I still have fun in the game (thanks to being in a great guild), it is obvious this game is tanking fast (and still tanking). The only ones to blame are the lead designers. It suffers from an amazing amount of tunnel vision and design arrogance of thinking one knows better than their players. A business is simple – provide customers what they want and they buy from you. Act like you are a game design god and your players are a bunch of peons who don’t know any better and they don’t buy from you. Now, the heads are rolling in management for the failure that SWTOR has become. It is that simple.”
Is anything ever simple, unless we see evidence of subscription numbers? Many members of the MMO community and press speak very harshly about SWTOR, and obviously mistakes have been made by the team behind its development, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the game will be dead within a few months.
Other players are actually looking a step beyond, and placing some of the negativity blame surrounding the game on the community itself:
“I blame the community. Too many selfish “I want it now” players in the MMO genre. MMOs take a LOT of money to create, and once created it still takes much time and even more money to become great. WoW was 10 times worse at launch, but got lucky and was given the chance to grow. And now since WoW is where it is, people just expect to have all the same features and more right at launch.
Don’t get me wrong, EA/Bioware has made some bad choices as well, but I definitely feel the community is to blame even more.”
The MMO crowd is a needy bunch of gamers these days, it seems, but that brings us back to what I’ve already mentioned– yes, obvious mistakes were made. BioWare could have handled many things differently, and the sub numbers have taken an obvious hit due to unhappy players. Plus, there’s always the fact that MMO gamers, like every type of consumer out there– are paying customers, and deserve decent customer service and a product that lives up to its promise.
It’s a tough call. Here’s an interesting, level-headed bit of feedback, one that rings quite true:
“I don’t know exactly what the vision is or will be in the future, but with the sheer amount of people dropping off of this project by choice or not doesn’t bode well. You can say good riddance to X,Y, and Z because you think they weren’t doing a good job and you believe a change will represent a good thing, but there’s no guarantee that something better will actually happen at this point.
I’ve gotten the impression that a lot of people didn’t really care about the game behind the scenes… that they were disconnected in a way from the players and they lacked the real vision (or desire) to make this game fun, to make a player feel as though they are achieving something useful for their time and it shows in the product we play today.
I don’t know if they have the ability to step it up or if they’ll even have the man power and foresight to get this game going in a better direction again.
I’d like to see this game succeed but with all the bad press and word of mouth from gamers, EAware isn’t doing themselves any favors lately. I bought into the hype and I’m still here playing and enjoying the game for the most part, but I just don’t think what has happened to this game was intended or could have even been anticipated in December.
Good luck Rich, and good luck to everyone else left picking up the pieces.”
At the end of the day, that last line is really all we can say, all the meanwhile hoping BioWare and EA can pick up those pieces.