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Confirmed: SOE drops 205 staff, cans The Agency

Thursday, 31st March 2011 19:19 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Sony Entertainment Online has released an official statement regarding earlier rumors of studio closures and the reduction of a third of its total staff. It has confirmed the closure of its Denver, Seattle, and Tuscon studios and the cancellation of The Agency.

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.”

The statement said that all possible steps are being taken to “ensure team members affected by the transition are treated with appropriate concern.”

Additionally SOE will transition development efforts for the Denver and Tucson studios’ suite of products to its San Diego headquarters in order to “better position 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.”

It was reported earlier by Kotaku that the MMO developer’s Seattle, Tucson, and Denver studios had been closed, with all staff sacked.

The Austin and San Diego studios were are also said to have been hit hard, with half of each’s employees laid off.

Duke Nukem creator George Broussard brought the rumour to public attention with a tweet, outing an industry rumour that the Seattle studio was at death’s door.

The publisher’s current line up includes Star Wars Galaxies, Free Realms and DC Universe Online, but rose to MMORPG prominence in late 1999 with Everquest.

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38 Comments

  1. Stardog

    Your twitter link generator has been broken all day…

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Razor

    What is the point of Sony Online Entertainment?

    I don’t get it.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Zana

    Make… online… games…

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Razor

    Thanks Zana…you wanna try that again without the sarcasm?

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Grimrita

    The develop MMO games with Everquest being their most successful, destroying Star Wars Galaxies and are working on The Agency, which has kinda gone off the radar of late.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Blerk

    Ouch, that can’t be good. Best of luck to the recently departed.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. viralshag

    SOE also kinda killed The Matrix Online from what I remember. It might have been crap before but that was my first MMO so I always have fond memories of jumping from rooftop to rooftop.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. StolenGlory

    @7 Me too :)

    #8 3 years ago
  9. viralshag

    @ StolenGlory, I will always think that game died before its time. It was a pretty awesome game. Obviously, looks like crap now :P but the class system of guns/dual guns/hacking/martial arts or a combo was awesome.

    RIP Matrix Online :D

    Quite a bit like Rift’s class system now. (Rift is also awesome :))

    #9 3 years ago
  10. DeathJynx

    Damn, sure hope this stays a rumor. The Tuscon headquaters is about an hour away and I was hoping to get an intro spot there… oh well, on to the THQ office (sigh)

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Erthazus

    SOE is shit right now.

    They made really great games in the past. Now they are doing something absolutely wrong. Sup bar DC Universe Online, The Agency is somewhere else…

    SW:galaxy was a big financial boom for them + Matrix Online. Everquest 2 was not that successful as they wanted it to be.

    Sony really need to do something with SOE because it’s now a huge financial risk for Sony.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. DeathJynx

    I wouldn’t say huge financial risk. But definitely a risk that is going no where fast.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Hunam

    I was quite looking forward to The Agency :(

    But also, it’s looking more and more like DC Universe becoming the next WAR, as in, decent launch, massive drop off followed by over a year of almost no patches and content.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. viralshag

    DCUO had such great potential but I just didn’t like the choices for the character creation in terms of class/spec/roles. Not to mention that it was buggy as hell.

    I really enjoyed it for about a week but I had no interest to re-sub. It was a shame as it’s such a good brand/franchise behind it. They just didn’t do enough for me.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. blackdreamhunk

    I told the game devs my thoughts on dc online not good for a mmo in beta. However I just trashed on by fan-boys now the game is dying. My words always come to pass. frankly I feel the game devs did not know what they were doing. They don’t under stand gamers or mmo’s.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. Christopher Jack

    @15, I’ve never met someone as up them self as as you. Why would ANYONE take your word over another random person’s?

    #16 3 years ago
  17. blackdreamhunk

    #16

    they are out of a job now aren’t they, I am real sure they have alot people playing dc online.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. DeathJynx

    @17 im sure none of the DCUO people got canned. And they knew plenty about mmo’s. They had ex WoW staffers, and it shows, as well as some of the team behind everquest. They just wanted to do it different.

    #18 3 years ago
  19. blackdreamhunk

    @18

    really how come the game lacks immersion with a lot of many other things. DC on-line is a move backwards for the genre. More like poor man’s champions on line.

    Lets compare the game play to champions online,guild wars 2 and kotor.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. DeathJynx

    @19 Hey man, im not defending the game. Just defibbing your claim is all. They had lots of guys who knew the mechanics of good mmos. Maybe they spent all their budget on licensing and couldn’t do what they wanted… I don’t know. I agree the game is subpar, far from a 15$ a month premium. I hate the loot system and how you can customize the appearance so freely. I have always been more partial to the kinda of games where if you where knowledgeable, you could guess what opponents or team mates where wearing based on appearance. And instead of lying, using the fact that they did know what they were doing, should be used to strengthen your complaint about how the game sucks. That way they have no excuses.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. blackdreamhunk

    #20

    I gave them a detail list of problems on their forums, oh one major part is they creativity.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. lexph3re

    @21 I didn’t see anything wrong with dc. Univers but the asking price. I feel they would see more value in their merchandise if they would sell the retail disc at 20-30 with 1 month then it would justify a purchase. I don’t think the digital version should’ve been 60 either. Their just selling the game all wrong in my opinion. Other then that I felt the game was extremely fun and I was completely into the game when I was in the beta.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. onlineatron

    Oh drat… I’ve been looking forward to The Agency for years now :(

    They should have focussed on it rather than the licensed shit-show that was DCU.

    EDIT: And good luck to all those recently unemployed!

    #23 3 years ago
  24. DeathJynx

    What a heartbreaker… turns out the rumor was true. Well makes my life harder… lol.

    #24 3 years ago
  25. Erthazus

    @onlineatron, to be honest, they should debunk DCUO and agency all together from the start and focus on the old ip’s like Everquest or Planetside.

    #25 3 years ago
  26. Hunam

    The Agency was doomed every since the two leads walked out.

    Although, I guess now The Secret World will become the lead ‘action’ MMO on the market with Agency gone and DC Universe seemingly gasping for air making the competition much less appealing.

    #26 3 years ago
  27. onlineatron

    Have we heard anything from Planetside Next recently?

    Wasn’t it meant to be announced soon?

    #27 3 years ago
  28. Erthazus

    @27, Planetside Next and Everquest Next is in development. Stay tuned.

    #28 3 years ago
  29. OlderGamer

    @22

    I agree w/ya Lex. Imo very few games are worth 60usd upfront and 15/month there after.

    DCU looks like fun to me, but not worth the high end monthly. If it were 5usd/month I would own it on PS3 and play it. I only played PSU briefly too, also due to the 15/month tag.

    I have played EQ, WoW and now Rift, all running me 15?month. But those games hold their value. I do not have words for how refreshing and fun Rift feels to me.

    Someone should bring a Guild Wars 2 style MMO to consoles.

    #29 3 years ago
  30. railbird13

    bah, I’m not an MMO player, but they had my interest with The Agency

    #30 3 years ago
  31. LOLshock94

    this the game rockstar are making?

    #31 3 years ago
  32. Phoenixblight

    @31

    No that would be Agent. Not the Agency or The Agent just Agent.

    #32 3 years ago
  33. IL DUCE

    What they should do with their next MMO is make an Everquest for PS3 and PC, and expand your audience and it will definitely be successfully, as a console gamer, I would be down with that…or another Star Wars Galaxies but with The Old Republic that hardly seems sensible right now…

    #33 3 years ago
  34. Ireland Michael

    Played The Agency at SOE’s closed booth at E3 last year.

    You guys aren’t missing much.

    The concept far outweighted the execution.

    #34 3 years ago
  35. Gadzooks!

    I was pretty sure right from the off that The Agency would never see the light of day. I’m surprised it’s taken this long for them to can it.

    DCUO however, has been pretty succesful I think. I know lots of people that play it a lot and really enjoy it. If it were on the 360 I’d certainly be playing it.

    #35 3 years ago
  36. blackdreamhunk

    @35 from what I hear there was a huge population drop after the first month.

    #36 3 years ago
  37. Hunam

    @36 I can confirm this on the PC as I went back to it out of boredom and it’s a ghost town. Can’t say about the PS3 version though.

    #37 3 years ago
  38. TheWulf

    This is hardly surprising with the incredible flop that DC Universe Online was, which must have cost them a lot of money, and is definitely not the best to have come out of their company. The servers are very much dead at the moment as more and more people realise that they can get a better experience for free with Champions Online.

    Really, I’m just very much not surprised at this. They weren’t prepared to tackle the big boys of this arena, and they’ve fallen behind even Paragon Studios (the current City of Heroes/Villains developer) in regards to profit margins and subscriber numbers, let alone matching the meaty profits that are keeping Cryptic quite happily afloat.

    In fact, the free to play thing has done great things for Cryptic’s revenue, as they revealed recently, it’s been a massive success and more and more people are playing the game all the time. How it’s not succumbing to lag I’ll never know. But until Guild Wars 2 comes along, Champions Online is the best MMORPG out there right now, bar none.

    SOE just didn’t stand a chance. And these layoffs are just evidence of their absolute failure, really.

    (Of course, the most entertaining thing was that there were actually some people defending DC Universe Online as the better game, even here. I won’t name names, but I can’t help but scoff in their general direction. I tend to be right about these things.)

    #38 3 years ago

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