Funcom, the developer of Age of Conan and the recently launched MMO The Secret World, was hit with layoffs yesterday. The layoffs have affected approximately half of the studio’s worldwide staff, although Funcom has not provided a confirmation on the number of employees that will be affected by these cuts at this time. This is said to be a move that falls under the previously announced “cost-adjustment initiative” and come after the lukewarm performance of The Secret World.
Funcom has released a statement on the matter, saying:
“As we announced in the stock notice that went out on August 10th, Funcom is in the process of reducing operational costs and this process includes temporary layoffs as well as other initiatives… As we are currently in the middle of this process we can not provide any further comment at the present time. Rest assured however that we have long-term plans for the company and that we remain fully committed to all of our games.”
The Secret World is currently sitting on a 72 average Metacritic score, a matter that Funcom believes has directly affected the lower than expected initial revenue for the new IP.
Analysis: For a game that so many were excited to get their hands on only a few short months ago, it’s somewhat shocking to hear that The Secret World has performed so poorly. This is especially so since anyone I spoke to who had access to the beta only sang praises for the title.
More and more, I’m starting to believe that the huge success that World of Warcraft has earned itself was very much a case of being in the right place at right time. Many competitors have come along hoping to usurp the throne from Blizzard’s behemoth, but to limited success. It may just be best if studios moved on and stopped trying to emulate the success of WoW by switching up the very fabric that WoW built all those years ago, rather than copying it again and again.
Of course, the $50 price tag, monthly subscription fees, and micro transactions are a lot to swallow and would most definitely play a part in the limited success of Funcom’s title. Either way, this isn’t the first time a developer has cut staff after the release of a highly anticipated MMO. As a business decision, it makes sense because fewer people would be needed to maintain and extend the game after release.
Still, this is unfortunate news, and my best wishes go out to those who were affected. Here’s hoping they’re able to find work elsewhere soon.