Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Some Economy, Eh?

With a bit more info rolling in, Syp's ticked about the announced firings at Mythic's WAR dev team. He makes a good point, especially about how the increased contact with the devs has fostered a feeling of attachment and friendship between the gamers and those developers. In no particular order, here are my random thoughts about it:

- It's a business. EA and Mythic have to turn a profit in order to continue to provide the content and game play that we've come to expect in WAR. Given the choice between cutting some people and shutting down the game, I'll take the former every time.

- That said, I'm not convinced that WAR or Mythic are facing that kind of choice. With just six months since the launch of the game, EA and Mythic should be focusing on expanding, improving, and developing this title. Granted, it's very likely that the gaming economy is shrinking just like so much of the rest of the economy these days, but it seems to me that a major new title like this is going to require a high level of support regardless of economic factors.

- The timing kinda stinks. "Thanks for your effort! Let's celebrate the six month mark with a round of layoffs!" My educated guess is that the development of this kind of title is a big investment of time and energy by the developers, including long meetings, long nights, and long weekends to insure that the launch and ensuing months go well. To go from full speed developer to fired is a harsh drop. I don't know how many other projects Mythic has going on, but if I was that manager I'd be looking for every way possible to keep those developers on board somewhere somehow. 

- Besides the bad timing for the people fired, this isn't good timing for Mythic either. 300k continuing subscriptions isn't bad, but it's not a slam-dunk either. Pair that with notice that you're firing developers, QA, and customer service sends the wrong message that you don't expect to grow much more. And that kind of pessimistic message has a tendency to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

- As long as Mythic hits the release schedule they laid out last week, this will probably be forgotten in six months. But that doesn't make it any easier for the folks who have to update the resumes and look for work in a down market. 

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