It’s another day in the games industry, which means another bunch of talented people have lost their jobs. Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet have confirmed that “staff reductions” are being made “due to the cancellation of unannounced projects”. They claim that “the Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 game services will not be affected, nor is any upcoming game content cancelled.” Game: (supposedly) fine. Lives: less so.
Kotaku have spoken to sources which suggest the company was facing some degree of financial trouble, though we don’t know the numbers involved. Nor do we yet know the number of people who have been laid off.
The layoffs come in the context of “a larger organizational restructuring within NCSoft in the west”, confirmed ArenaNet in a statement to PC Gamer. NCSoft are ArenaNet’s parent company.
As Kotaku highlight in their original report, NCSoft closed WildStar developer Carbine Studios last September, as well as beginning plans for staff cut-backs at mobile studio Iron Tiger. This does make sense in the light of their financial earnings call earlier this week, where they reported that PC revenue was down.
Kotaku’s report also claims that “around 400 people work at ArenaNet, and for the past few years they’ve been working on a number of unannounced projects, according to one person familiar with goings-on at the company. However, that person said, slow development progress combined with a lack of new games in 2018 and 2019 has led to a financial squeeze.”
I don’t find these layoffs outrageous in quite the same way as Activision’s, who recently laid off 800 people after boasting of “record results” in their last sales year. Nevertheless, any claims about the necessity of restructuring should go alongside a reminder that the salaries of people in top company positions – especially a conglomerate like NCSoft – could likely cover those of many at the bottom rungs.