Well, damn. I wondered why my article on Wizards layoffs in August was suddenly getting hits, and it’s because there are more – a lot more. Lisa Stevens of Paizo confirms on ENWorld that the layoffs include:
- Randy Buehler (VP of digital gaming)
- Andrew Finch (director of digital games)
- Stacy Longstreet (senior art director)
- Julia Martin (editor)
- William Meyers (creative manager, digital design)
- Dave Noonan (game designer)
- Jennifer Paige (online community manager) (aka Solice)
- Jennifer Powers (marketing)
- Jonathan Tweet (game designer)
Shockingly big names! And it sucks that it’s right before the holidays, but that’s all trying to make your year-end numbers look good.
So what does this mean for WotC strategy? They just cut a lot of their digital guys. Are they giving up? Or just taking a huge setback? Cutting down on 4e’ers isn’t unexpected – people are saying it’s not performing to expectation and heck, they cut people after the 3e launch too.
My personal favorite here is Tweet – IMO, too talented to be working on D&D, though I’m sure a regular paycheck and health benefits were saying otherwise. Time for a new version of Over the Edge or Unknown Armies!!! I’d love to see Tweet land with Pelgrane, Paizo, or even Hidden City Games if they are going to do more RPGs than just Donut or whatnot. He did a lot with Atlas but they’ve about given up on RPGs. Heck, apparently Mongoose is growing like crazy…
Anyway, best of luck to all the newly jobless.
Where the heck did you hear that 4E isn’t performing up to expectation? Additionally, did your expectation include the worst American economy in two decades?
The only place I’ve seen the comment on 4e possibly underperforming was from Matt Sprange in the State of the Mongoose. But I have no clue where he picked up his information.
I want to know what, if anything, this means for the DDI.
@Billy – There are few indicators of DnD 4ed not doing well, although none of the indicators are proof positive. #1 – Comments made by Matt Sprange of Mongoose. #2 – The Company providing the translated German version of the game has decided to stop. #3 – In established DnD gamers only about 45% switched to 4ed with 45% stay with 3.5, and 10% playing some other edition of the game. Again none of these things mean that it has underperformed, but it does make it look slightly bad.
They’re talking about it too over at Enworld and I think Dave Noonan confirms it too. More cuts and just before the holidays. It’s almost to the point of who’s left?
I mean if their DDI model is doing well then why lay off the VP of Digital Gaming?
In more news from ICv2, this is being played as a consolidation of their digital departments (D&D and Magic’s, apparently):
a WotC spokesperson noted, “Wizards of the Coast consolidated its digital game organizations to streamline execution of digital growth strategies for core brands.”
Wizards of the Coast President Greg Leeds also weighed in. “Consolidating internal resources coupled with improved outsourcing allows us to gain efficiencies in executing against our major digital initiatives Magic Online and D&D Insider,” he said. “Wizards of the Coast is well positioned to maximize future opportunities, including further brand development on digital platforms. The result of this consolidation is a more streamlined approach to driving core brands.”
My take – outsourcing when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing will end up even worse than doing it in house when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing…
Also, an interesting comment from Ryan Dancey on the RPGPundit’s blog – he thinks they’re cutting all the creative and planning to milk it until they’re just the M:tG company again.
Other info – the total list of laid off is 24 people, leaving WotC at around 100, a 20% workforce cut. That’s pretty deep!
I see people hitting this page because of the new 2009 round of Wizards layoffs – this post is about the 2008 round, but to link some new info for you, yes, in Dec 2009 Wizards/D&D has laid off 4 game designers and 4+ other folks in graphics areas. Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Chris Sims, and Stephen Radney-McFarland got the axe. This ENWorld thread has confirmations and more info.
My gaming group regularly do the rounds at second hand game and DVD stores (four here in the Tidewater Virginia area to date) and we see a lot of the fourth edition gaming books on the shelves, and they’re not selling. We’re among the 10% who play another version of the game (first edition; iron gamers and wooden dice). I can’t help but think that alot of WotC’s ills stem from two things; 1.) They’ve gotten away from the real spirit of D&D and 2.) What does Hasbro know about RPG’s?
It’s unethical to use layoffs in this fashion. Sure, it’s legal. And sometimes a company has to conduct layoffs if they’re really swirling down the drain. But Wizards just has layoffs every year like clockwork, and that’s wrong.
I worked for one company where we were going down and I had to lay people off and then I got laid off (and then the company folded). It’s horrible and not to be done for kicks. The companies I’ve worked for have valued their employees and would only conduct layoffs as a last resort. And that’s recognized as the better way, gets you onto the “Fortune best companies to work for” lists and all.
This year was really rough for a lot of companies and mine was not excepted. We took pay cuts, we took mandatory vacation, we worked hard on cutting expenses. But no layoffs. Those are a last resort, not a convenience tool, if you are a human being with any regard whatsoever for the people working for your company (and their families). It’s not a minor fiscal adjustment. As a manager/executive/whatever, you bear responsibility for the people working for you; they are always giving their best to help you and their well-being is entrusted to you. I’ve been a manager off and on over the years and I take that responsibility seriously, as do the many other managers of good will out there in the companies I work for and the industry in general. Treating people like shit to be flushed is not “normal” and those that advocate it richly deserve for it to happen to them.