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Star Wars: The Old Republic Cuts

The Star Wars: The Old Republic Website has word of staff cuts at BioWare Austin, the development studio behind Star Wars: The Old Republic, the sci-fi MMORPG. The update from Doctors Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka does not say why this is happening, but does that this about the future: "Rest assured that we remain dedicated to delivering a high quality service in SWTOR to you, our fans, and we will continue to support and grow Star Wars: The Old Republic over the weeks, months and years to come." VentureBeat has a follow-up comment on this from Electronic Arts:

BioWare has restructured its studio in Austin today. Of the employees impacted, some will be able to join other projects within EA, others will leave the company. These are very difficult decisions, but it allows us to focus our staff to maintain and grow Star Wars: The Old Republic.

BioWare Austin remains a large and important part of BioWare and EA, working with other studios around the world to continue to deliver a high-quality service and exciting new content for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

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94. Re: Star Wars: The Old Republic Cuts May 24, 2012, 11:47 wtf_man
StingingVelvet wrote on May 24, 2012, 10:48:
I don't really know enough about the TOR numbers and MMO history to argue that aspect. It makes sense to me that you cut people once the game launches and have a smaller maintenance team, but you could be right in saying the opposite.

MMOs are huge beasts to develop and maintain. 99 out of 100 times, they run out of money and launch incomplete (beta level at best), and frantically try to fix the game before they lose all the subscribers. This is why we get flop after flop. That... and mostly it is the same old shit with different paint... which people get bored with rather quickly.

When you start small, have something decent to launch, and grow the game... there seems to be a better chance for success (Eve online for example). Most of these publishers and studios are playing the "WOW lotto", though... and losing bad.

If they'd stop focusing on the "WoW lotto", and actually build MMOs that have plenty of diversity in the gameplay (Like EQ vs. Asheron's call... completely different gameplay), instead of trying to ride the "that was successful... let's build a clone" ticket... we might see less flops. Unfortunately, publishers, especially, feel that there is "less risk" by cloning "what has proven to work". The problem is, that just doesn't work in an over-saturated market, that costs big to develop and maintain, that charges a fee, and that people are getting easily bored with. It's a recipe for disaster... and we've seen train wreck after train wreck in the last few years. (Vanguard, Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, Etc. etc.)

So, back to what I was saying about starting small... the formula in the early days... like EQ was a long term investment. They grew the game with an expansion around every 8-10 months. They grew their development team as well. Now, granted, at some point there was a peak, and they started reducing developers... but that was years later. And because of the age of the engine and all of the tools built... it has taken less and less people to maintain the game and still create expansions.

That seems like the proper development formula to me. TOR basically blew their wad on "being fully voiced over"... which was a good enough gimmick to get people to like the game... but not keep them around. Now they are in a catch-22... they can't add content fast enough, especially because of the voice-overs... plus they have reduced staff. The lack of end game is the biggest complaint... and they can't fix it fast enough, as they bled subscriptions since Late January. When your playerbase can reach the end of the game before the subscription kicks in... and there is no end game... and you can't add content in a timely fashion... and you are losing staff... you have a VERY serious problem. (aka train wreck in the waiting)

StingingVelvet wrote on May 24, 2012, 10:48:
Bioware studio in Texas was built for TOR and is not really going to be considered a failing of the brand if the game tanks. That's my main point.

Well, I'm not exactly trying to say the sky is falling for Bioware, either. A 300 million dollar flop, most certainly hurts the name, IMO. And if DA3 were to fail, there would be even more damage to the name. AND... EA is ruthless with studios. That was my point.

StingingVelvet wrote on May 24, 2012, 10:48:
As for DA2, Bioware employees have been surprisingly blunt on their forums about having a mandate to shit out a sequel in record time to capitalize on the release of the original.

If that is true, and not just an excuse (I haven't been following DA2), that is actually another (albiet different) example of EA destroying Bioware.

StingingVelvet wrote on May 24, 2012, 10:48:
DA2 was a special case and I don't think EA will repeat that mistake.

Well, I hope not. We'll see if DA3 has the DA:O magic or not.
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