In an unexpected turn yesterday, ArenaNet's employees confirmed a rumor related to massive layoffs that are planned to permeate throughout the company soon. While we have no confirmed amounts of how many of the nearly 400 members of staff that ArenaNet employs will be out of work, the confirmations came in the form of tweets from current staff. After massive rounds of layoffs have hit EA and Activision in recent weeks, we, the gaming faithful, look on with solidarity and hope that those that have lost their jobs will find a new home soon.
Cases of layoffs have hit the industry extremely hard over the past few years, and the reason for ArenaNet's layoffs was simple in nature. As per an email from CEO Songyee Yoon, “Our live game business revenue is declining as our franchises age, delays in development on PC and mobile have created further drains against our revenue projects, while our operating costs in the west have increased. Where we are is not sustainable, and is not going to set us up for future success.” In other words, the Guild Wars franchise isn’t profitable enough to keep on the current amount of staff.
Now that our company meetings are over: Yes, ArenaNet has announced layoffs today. We are not being shuffled out right away, decisions are pending. ArenaNet has been very very transparent with us today in the meetings, which is something I appreciate very much.— Jennifer Scheurle (@Gaohmee) February 21, 2019
They also credit several projects, including a mobile project, as a reason why revenue has floundered. These unannounced projects appear to have severely put a drain on ArenaNet's resources, but how will this affect the current player base? In a recent article I mused about how we won’t be seeing new races, and nearly 7 years from launch, uncertainty is hitting Tyrias future despite ANets fairly sincere dedication about their plans of building out the cohesive living world story. What we haven’t really heard much of are the massive income generators that were so notable in Guild Wars 1.
In Guild Wars 1, Anet continually pushed out additional campaigns and expansions in reasonably quick succession. As a basis for comparison, between the original Guild Wars and Guild Wars Factions, only a year had passed with nightfall hot on its heels. Guild Wars 2 didn't see a massive paid for expansion until 3 years after release, despite the free to play Living World seasons accumulating throughout those years. Many have suspected that we will have at least one more expansion before there is any talk of migrating to a new game, but much of this is conjecture which is only exasperated by ANet CEO Yoon's recompense that revenue declines are partially due to project delays and the cost of operating in the west.
From a broader scope, we have to ask where the remaining staff will be positioned and what we as players should expect from Guild Wars, not just as our current game of choice, but as a franchise. Currently, Guild Wars 2 would be ANets main revenue generator, but as a game of advanced years, it would be a mistake to focus solely on its ongoing progression. Then again, recently ANet rereleased Guild Wars 1 as a Complete Collection, and one can only wonder if treading on the past may be the premise of their unannounced Mobile title, as we’ve seen many older MMOs choose to go the way of mobile.
At this point, we have to ask if ANet’s rounds of layoffs are due to a simple lack of forethought and imagination. In this gaming climate, entire genres are created and broken in the blink of an eye. From the unsuspecting rise, plateau, and proselytized fall of Battle Royale, to the unsuspecting massive loss of jobs at the, once to be believed invincible, Activision, no company should expect unfettered success. No doubt the top brass will release a statement shortly about their continued dedication to Guild Wars 2, and the unfortunate cost of doing business, but we all know that there are more casualties of these layoffs than just those that lose their jobs. We may never know what projects ANet had planned behind the scenes. We can only hope that the ejected employees land somewhere soft, where their talents can be used to the fullest, and that ANet one day returns to the profitable marvel many of us believe it can be.