Word has come out today about numerous layoffs hitting BioWare Austin, the main team responsible for the EA-published MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The first of these confirmations comes for Rich Vogel, who was co-founder and co-studio director at the Austin branch of BioWare, as well as executive producer on The Old Republic. Vogel actually left the company in May; public confirmation of that move did not happen until today.
As well, word of other staff reductions also hit today confirmed—in part—by former BioWare Austin web developer Ben Marshall via this tweet:
Anyone know of a web developer position open in the Austin, TX area? Second round of layoffs at BioWare Austin and my name was on the list…
(Marshall has since removed that tweet from his account.)
While Star Wars: The Old Republic certainly hasn’t been a failure, it also hasn’t come close to being the success that EA and BioWare no doubt hoped it would be; it isn’t hard to see these staff shake-ups as fallout from the game’s struggles with subscriber retention.
For their part, EA released this official statement to the press earlier today in response to the news breaking about the staff reductions:
As announced in May and detailed at E3, the BioWare Austin team is refining Star Wars: The Old Republic to continue to grow the game and the service.
As with the launch of any MMO, the size and skillset of the teams needed to maintain the game is different than the ones that built it. Starting in May, there have been staff reductions in the BioWare Austin studio. Some people have been platooned to other projects at BioWare Austin and EA SPORTS/Austin. Others have been released – qualifying personnel receive severance and outplacement assistance.
BioWare Austin is currently staffed to ensure the continued delivery of new, high quality game content for The Old Republic, and at a more frequent cadence. In the weeks ahead, we will announce plans for growing SWTOR with new content, new players and new ways to play.
As always, our best wishes to those who may have been affected by these layoffs.