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BioWare Cutting SW:TOR Staff After 400K Player Dropoff

By - Source: CNET | B 47 comments

Has a drop in subscriptions pushed BioWare Austin into reducing its head count?

During EA's 4Q fiscal 2012 earnings call weeks ago, EA rep John Riccitiello said (pdf) that Star Wars: The Old Republic, which launched in December 2011, was the most successful subscription-based MMO launch in history. It's now firmly established as the #2 MMO in the west and extremely strong on the operations level, he said.

But later Riccitiello admitted that The Old Republic had only 1.3 million subscribers by the end of April. That's a substantial drop in number compared to the 1.7 million subscribers reported in February.

Ken Barker, a senior vice president and chief accounting officer at EA, followed up by saying the sudden drop was due to "casual and trial players cycling out of the subscriber base, driving up the overall percentage of paying subscribers."

"The current number of active subscribers, 1.3 million, is very consistent with the original assumptions we made when we acquired BioWare in 2008," Barker told investors. "We expect this title will further expand our margins in fiscal 13 as we get the full year benefit of subscription revenue."

Now BioWare CEO Ray Muzyka and co-founder Greg Zeschuk are reporting that many BioWare Austin workers will be laid off thanks to "restructuring."

"Sadly, we are bidding farewell to some talented, passionate and exceptionally hard-working people who helped make SW:TOR a reality," they told the SW:TOR community in a recent blog. "Impacting people’s lives this way is always very hard, but we’re ensuring the affected people are treated with dignity, fairness and respect."

"We still have a very substantial development team working on supporting and growing the game, and we feel we are in a strong position, with your continued involvement and feedback, to continue to build Star Wars: The Old Republic as one of the most compelling and successful online experiences in the world today," they added. "There are many strong initiatives planned for cool new content and new features that we’re excited to tell you about in the upcoming weeks and months."

EA followed up with an announcement stating that some of the employees impacted by the BioWare Austin layoffs will be able to join other EA projects while the remainder will be forced to 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," EA stated. "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."

BioWare and EA did not reveal the actual number of layoffs.

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    Anonymous , May 23, 2012 4:49 AM
    quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->
    unsubscribe. someone needs to think outside (the) genre.
  • 23 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , May 23, 2012 6:31 AM
    EA: Able to kill off just about any studio
  • 21 Hide
    dark_knight33 , May 23, 2012 4:46 AM
    Lousy tech support, disrespectful customer service, lackluster game, endless bugs...

    What did you expect, a raise?
Other Comments
    Display all 47 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    mirage1974a , May 23, 2012 4:37 AM
    LOL!!!
  • 10 Hide
    boyabunda , May 23, 2012 4:43 AM
    Preparing for Guild Wars 2 :D 
  • 21 Hide
    dark_knight33 , May 23, 2012 4:46 AM
    Lousy tech support, disrespectful customer service, lackluster game, endless bugs...

    What did you expect, a raise?
  • 24 Hide
    Anonymous , May 23, 2012 4:49 AM
    quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->
    unsubscribe. someone needs to think outside (the) genre.
  • 18 Hide
    Anonymous , May 23, 2012 5:02 AM
    I would feel more inclided to support BW if they were not affiliated with EA. I do not SUPPORT bad business.
  • 7 Hide
    bignick18 , May 23, 2012 5:09 AM
    boyabundaPreparing for Guild Wars 2

    Glad im not alone :) 
  • 9 Hide
    Anonymous , May 23, 2012 5:13 AM
    WoW copy/paste with Star wars skin...that is all...
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , May 23, 2012 5:17 AM
    When they doublecharged my paypal and customersupport seende unable to fix it despite several calls I canceled My subscription.
  • 6 Hide
    olaf , May 23, 2012 5:39 AM
    how about fixing endgame content instead ? or better yet how about actualy creating one. Unfortunatly you can't take one of the best RPG creators and have it make a good MMORPG.
  • 23 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , May 23, 2012 6:31 AM
    EA: Able to kill off just about any studio
  • 5 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , May 23, 2012 6:43 AM
    buckcmYou use Paypal?

    paypal is a commonly used payment system. And for the most part works flawlessly. It's by far the safest way to trade with asia for instance - and often you can't use a regular credit card directly on a foreign website if you're not accessing it from the card's home country (visa as an example). Paypal however doesn't care if you're on the internet from your home country or a neighbouring one.
  • 8 Hide
    arlandi , May 23, 2012 6:50 AM
    hmm... will this also happen with Elder Scrolls Online??
  • -2 Hide
    alidan , May 23, 2012 6:55 AM
    olafhow about fixing endgame content instead ? or better yet how about actualy creating one. Unfortunatly you can't take one of the best RPG creators and have it make a good MMORPG.


    with masseffect 2 combat (i liked the firsts combat and systems more than number 2s paint by numbers approach) masseffect 3, dragon age 2, i cant call them good anymore, they are basically dead and we all know it.

    and now a switch to rts... yea... that will end well...
  • -2 Hide
    Marthian , May 23, 2012 6:55 AM
    theunfrailhalequest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest->cookie. quest-> unsubscribe. someone needs to think outside (the) genre.

    Have you heard of Pathfinder Online? Supposedly, it's got some of the better people of the MMO industry, and they plan to make a sandbox MMO where the players actually get to change stuff... Rather than have everything already made.
  • 16 Hide
    ben850 , May 23, 2012 7:34 AM
  • 13 Hide
    killerclick , May 23, 2012 8:39 AM
    We just wanted KOTOR 3!!!
  • 2 Hide
    tk1138 , May 23, 2012 9:13 AM
    dark_knight33Lousy tech support, disrespectful customer service, lackluster game, endless bugs... What did you expect, a raise?



    +100 these people dont know basic math either..i pratically had to draw a freaking diagram for the guy to get him to understand how if something is a 2 month subscription is should end on or around the same numbered date it was started on...

    the company bioware, and ea are both crap and the game it self is alright but due to their stupid customer service people (who all seem to be from england, the people on the phone all had british accents, and were all dumb as hell)

    screw these people i hope this game gets shelved by the devs...
  • 0 Hide
    Botia , May 23, 2012 11:49 AM
    I have had a different opinion of their support. While there are a number of bugs, it is not as bad as when WoW cam out, although I see little progress in fixing most of them. The big ones tend to get fixed pretty quickly.

    Technical support has been very responsive and helpful. Things that should be passed on to developers are. Things that can be fixed by support are. I have been very impressed with their support.
  • 4 Hide
    southernshark , May 23, 2012 12:01 PM
    I hope EA lays off all of its staff... starting with the management.
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