Sony Online Entertainment: lay-offs hit Austin, San Diego offices

Wednesday, 28 August 2013 22:43 GMT By Brenna Hillier

EverQuest, Planetside 2 and DC Universe Online publisher Sony Online Entertainment has confirmed a round of lay-offs, although the number of affected employees has been kept under wraps.

In a post on the company’s forums, community relations director Linda Carlson described the lay-offs as a “reduction in our workforce at SOE”.

“As a company, our goal is to focus on our core expertise of MMO games and as part of these efforts, we had to make the difficult decision to eliminate positions to help reduce costs, streamline our employee base and strategically align resources towards our current portfolio of games and upcoming slate of MMOs, including EverQuest Next Landmark and EverQuest Next,” she wrote.

“We deeply value our employees and are grateful for all they’ve contributed to our company and games. They will be missed by colleagues and friends, and we wish them well in the future.”

No further detailes were given, although a representative told Gamasutra that the lay-offs affected both the Austin and San Diego offices.

SOE has declined the opportunity to enumerate the cuts, and has locked discussion threads pertaining to them, citing respect for those affected. A source told PCGamer that as many as 200 staff had been cut.

These cuts include some on the Planet Side 2 team, and when Internet rumblings of the game possibly being in trouble started making the rounds, SOE CEO John Smedley took to Reddit to ease concerns.

“Yes some people have been let go from the team,” wrote Smedley. “They did terrific work and it’s just simply a cost cutting issue. There are many people with theories on why stuff like this happens. I can tell you this very simply – we make the best games we can and as a company I can say with a straight face that we do our absolute best to minimize the times when we need to do layoffs like this.

“They absolutely suck. However we do our absolute best to get people placed with good companies and we absolutely hire people back.

“I don’t much like the boilerplate statements companies make these days, ours included, so I wanted to come on here and let you know we stand by PS2 and our other games and despite some people no longer being at the team we are working hard on the optimizations and the other features we have promised.

“We are making good progress and we intend to have a full status update next week.”

Smedley said the MMO is “doing well,” and that the cuts “were necessary to get our costs in line with our revenues. Simple as that.”

Austin studio head Lorin W. Jameson said gamers should expect business as usual.

“Quite simply we intend to fully deliver on all of the plans we have announced and have many new and exciting things we are planning that we have yet to discuss. In short expect no changes in the quality or quantity of releases for DCUO. In fact we are constantly striving to increase both measures,” the developer said.

SOE’s next major project is EverQuest Next and its world-building spin-off EverQuest Next – Landmark. A traditionally PC-centric publisher, SOE focuses on MMOs and was one of the first publishers to do free-to-play on a grand scale and to bring that experience to consoles. It recently revealed the PS3 version of DC Universe Online is its fastest-growing product.

Thanks, Polygon.