Layoffs, redundancies, or restructuring. Call it what you will, the studio responsible for Electronic Arts' (EA) flagship MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic, has announced it has fired some of its staff.
The announcement came on the official forums for The Old Republic, in a post by Bioware co-founder Greg Zeschuk. The message, attributed to both Zeschuk and Bioware's other co-founder, Ray Muzyka, confirmed that Bioware Austin has undergone "restructuring," laying off an undetermined number of employees.
The job descriptions of those let go have not been released, but the message stated they were treated with "dignity, fairness, and respect." It went on to thank everyone at the studio for executing one of the largest and most stable MMO launches in history. The post then switched tone and began to reassure fans and subscribers that the news did not mean the end of The Old Republic. From the forum post:
Looking forward, the studio remains vibrant and passionate about our many upcoming initiatives for Star Wars: The Old Republic. We still have a very substantial development team working on supporting and growing the game, and we feel we are in a strong position, with your continued involvement and feedback, to continue to build Star Wars: The Old Republic as one of the most compelling and successful online experiences in the world today. There are many strong initiatives planned for cool new content and new features that we’re excited to tell you about in the upcoming weeks and months.
This news comes just two weeks after it was revealed in EA's fourth quarter fiscal results that The Old Republic had lost 400,000 subscribers over the first few months of 2012. EA's CEO, John Riccitiello, tried to downplay the importance of The Old Republic to EA, saying that the MMO was not a "top five" franchise for the company. Since the release of Diablo III, game forums for The Old Republic have seen complaints that many of the game's servers are suffering from low player populations.
What this means for the future of Star Wars: The Old Republic is unclear. Whether the layoffs will affect the quality of future content or slow the pace of content releases remains to be seen. The forum message from Bioware's founders today ended with a promise to support and grow Star Wars: The Old Republic "over the weeks, months, and years to come."