[News] TSW drops subscription charges, Layoffs at Trion

Just a couple of links today because the news is rolling.

Rock Paper Shotgun have an interview with Funcom, AHEAD of the announcement that TSW is going to drop sub fees. I don’t really understand this whole concept of the pre-announcement announcement, but moving to non-subscription is going to make the game much more appealing to anyone who was on the fence because of the costs.

I’m certainly much more likely to take a longer look. We knew Funcom had issues with TSW sales from previous layoffs, hopefully this will help the game to find an audience. Alongside SWTOR, this is another nail in the coffin of the subscription MMO — not to mention another example of an MMO changing its payment model fairly shortly after launch.

And in other, sadder news, Trion is laying off a number of developers from the Rift team. (What is it about US firms that they like to have a round of layoffs just before Christmas?) We heard very little about the sub numbers for Rift recently, so I can only guess this means that expansion sales weren’t enough to keep the boat afloat. I have been curious about how well Trion is managing to cost all of it’s projects (Rift, End of Nations, and Defiance). 2012 is certainly turning out as an anno horribilis for the gaming industry,  in the West at least. Moorgard notes that he has friends who have spent the year moving from one layoff to the next; I can only feel for them and hope next year works out better.

Oh, and Darkfall put back their release until January to allow more time for testing. This will likely be interpreted by a lot of people as a failure, but I tend to view delaying launch to allow more testing time as a success that bodes well for the future.

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8 thoughts on “[News] TSW drops subscription charges, Layoffs at Trion

  1. Unfortunately layoffs before Christmas aren’t just a US phenomenon. It happens in Oz as well, mostly I suspect to avoid paying for the public holidays (annual leave entitlements are paid anyway.)

    Still it royally sucks for those who are not going to have a job this Christmas, I hope they manage to find something quickly.

  2. It’s quite a surprise though, I saw that video earlier in the week and thought they were just having a promotion for ‘the end of days’ with an extended free trial. Always thought that buy to play would suit the game better, with the ‘issues’ being mini-campaign DLC, I hope they are smart and bundle the ‘issues’ together from time to time. From some of the details it looks like they are giving subscribers a stipend of points but expect them to use the points to pay for the DLC, I bet Turbine are looking at that and thinking that’s what they should have done. Interested in playing the game again, and hoping Steam will have a sale on it for Christmas.

    In other related news Trion announced they would have an extended free trial for previous subscribers to check out the new expansion, going to be taking advantage of that yet. Taking advantage is the key word, because I figure that is plenty of time for me to see most of the new content especially because I can enjoy Rift for a time but nothing to get me to subscribe and play it for months at a time. Can’t deny that GW2 has something to do with that for me, and probably a lot of other people too. Lotro introduced a successful B2P play model and it doesn’t seem to have the same traction as GW2 iseems to be having. I expect more games to faithfully copy these B2P models going forward than make a balls of it like AoC, EQ2 and SW:TOR (though they have eased the restrictions and said they are open to feed back).

  3. The layoffs around Christmas have to do with it being the end of the year. A company has until Midnight December 31st to have any personnel moves such as layoffs count for that calendar year, so layoffs and/or layoff announcements have become that Christmas present nobody wants to receive.

    I had a previous employer who released an e-mail on 6 PM December 31, 1999 announcing layoffs just so that’d count for that year. Most people weren’t even on because it was a company holiday, but because I was a QA developer I was on running testing. I’d already gotten that out of my system by that Monday, but you should have heard the noise from most everyone else…

  4. Most surprising thing for me is that TSW only has 2 people doing the cutscenes. They have a [I]lot[/I] of cutscenes in that game. Must be an awesome couple of guys.
    Truly hope they do get TSW to work. Apart from having a lifetime subscription (which I also have for STO, god help me), I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun in an MMO on the way to ‘cap’.

  5. Worth pointing out in Trion’s case that they’ve just launched Storm Legion, and layoffs once an expansion has shipped are the norm in this industry. It sucks for those concerned, but the nature of a project-based industry is that you need different numbers of people (and different KINDS of people) at different stages of a projerct, and very few game studios are big enough to have so many projects going on at once that they can even out that demand and give people jobs for life.

    This also explains why there are so many games industry layoffs before Christmas. Games projects try and ship before Christmas for pretty obvious sales-relatedreasons, so naturally the project teams can be released once the game ships, just in time to spend more time with their families over the festive season ( and no, I don’t think that sort of warm-hearted family feeling is what motivates the timing!)

      • Or not at the right stage – if they’re just getting started on the next expansion they need a handful of designers and concept artists. Just before one ships they need a shedload of QA people and programmers for the crunch fix work. If the guys Trion laid off were QA and junior-ish programmers it’s a normal project cycle. If they laid off a bunch of designers then they are in trouble… but the people I saw confirmed as going were QA staff.

  6. Layoffs always leave me speechless and a little sad.

    As for TSW, I wonder how well they will be able to keep funding the game. It should have released with a different financial model as some others have noted since launch. They were dreaming when they believed the game could pull down mass market subs.

    Also, didn’t know about the Rift deal darkeye. Maybe Ill give it a second look :)

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