SOE went and cut 205 positions and closed 3 studios. I am not terribly surprised by this mind you, but I am saddened. I would have to say that more than half of my time spent in MMO-land had been within the confines of an SOE game. EQ and EQ2 have been comfortable homes for the majority of my MMO lifetime.
So what is going wrong here? Everyone knows that EQ was revolutionary for its time and it is no less than amazing that as many people still play this game after 12 years. EQ2 is a great game that has arguably one of the most robust crafting systems and player housing (guild halls too) as any other game out there. Free Realms has mass market appeal to the younger crowd and they have had no shortage of great IP’s with Star Wars and DC Comics to top the list.
In large part I believe that SOE is suffering from some form of Jekyll and Hyde syndrome where sometimes the company is SOE, but more and more the company turns to its alter ego $OE. It seems that gone are the days when the company was trying to develop great games, and it has turned into a company that just wants to rake in as much revenue as it can to hearken back to the good old days.
The company really needs to take a step back and consider what it really wants to do. What is the best way to profitability. I can’t imagine that the current business model is the way to go. It is unfortunate that so many people had to lost their livelihood, but maybe the company can get its bearings back again.
Like Green Armadillo, who wrote a great post about the same topic (no really, go read it, it puts mine to shame), I feel I am one of the few people who stopped playing RIFT. Right now I needed to slow things down a bit and play a game that has more to offer than frenetic public quests and diverse leveling. EQ2 is great for that. For taking your time and looking around and smelling the flowers.
I truly hope that SOE can really focus on the two projects they have in the tank. I’m not too familiar with Planetside Next, but I have a lot of anticipation for Everquest Next. If SOE develops this project I think it could be a great game…if $OE rears its ugly head…EQ3 will be the final nail in the coffin for this flailing company.