In order to maintain the growth curve that EVE has enjoyed since 2003 and the growth curve to support their hiring practices over the last two years, the game should have passed 450,000 subscribers in October 2010. Not only did that not happen, growth has completely stagnated for the last eighteen months.Emphasis mine. Both the nice and the horrible thing about being successful in business is that you recognize the moves that have to be made to be successful in business.
CCP can no longer afford to afford to develop three MMOs at once and as a result, they've announced that they're laying off about 20% of staff. According to their announcement, this will primarily affect the World of Darkness team. WoD development will continue, but at a substantially reduced rate.
So first, my deepest condolences to those in CCP Games that are losing their jobs. My thoughts are with you and your families in this difficult time. This is doubly tragic because too often, companies do their planning for the year to come at the beginning of fourth quarter, which often results in layoffs right before the holiday season.
To those people, I say: keep your heads and your spirits up. You've done remarkable things at CCP, and you'll catch on elsewhere in short order. The timing of this is actually pretty good in the larger economy and the gaming industry. Again: stay positive and you'll be gainfully employed again soon.
To those left at CCP who will be dealing with the guilt of not being let go, I say: this is not your fault. This is a management decision made based on the unfortunate realities of other "sub-optimal" management decisions. The announcement says one solid truth flat-out:
In doing so, we have come to the conclusion that we are attempting too many things for a company our size.Short version: CCP management bit off more than they could chew. I hate using silly analogies at a time like this, but honestly... that one fits.
Some of you might be newer readers of my blog, and might have missed a piece from back in June called "The realities of EVE". In it, I did some analysis of CCP financial documents that readers of Failheap were clever enough to pick up in the Icelandic tax office. Those documents pointed to financial obligations that CCP had coming due this month. In order to meet those financial obligations, it was very clear that difficult choices were going to have to be made. Go read the full piece if you're interested. It lays down the reasons for today's announcement, but I have no interest in repeating them.
So today, we see the results of those difficult choices. As a manager, laying off valued staff -- and often, people who've become your friends -- is never, ever easy. As a manager myself, I hate it. But it's done for the survival of the business as a whole. CCP had to make these difficult choices to demonstrate to their investors that they're serious about getting EVE's subscriber numbers back on track, and serious about getting DUST 514 out the door and on a paying basis.
Unfortunately, it's the departing employees that end up paying the price.
One last thing: in a very real sense, EVE's players have to accept a measure of responsibility for this as well. Back in June, when unsubs were at their peak, I wrote:
In context, we know that over the weekend, some 4500 EVE subscriptions have been cancelled and the number is still climbing. That's $67,500 U.S. per month, or enough money to imperil the jobs of 15 or more CCP developers. There's no question that CCP has to respond to "what their players are doing."Now, this does not not not mean that I'm laying today's actions at the feet of EVE unsubscribers. As I said, today's announcement was caused by CCP management biting off more than they could chew. Simple as that. Still... the choices you make in EVE always have a consequence. I think I heard that somewhere.
Again, my condolences to those losing their jobs at CCP, and my best wishes to those that remain. A refocused CCP can and will succeed. And I've no doubt that we'll see World of Darkness hit the market soon enough. It's too cool a concept not to.