Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet will reportedly lay off a massive number of its employees. The developer initially launched MMORPG Guild Wars in 2005 and earned a name for itself by creating the first major MMO that did not collect money from players by having monthly subscription fees. Instead, players paid for the game once and then had the opportunity to pay for special items and extra in-game currency through microtransactions.
Guild Wars 2 continued the tradition of this business model, one that almost every modern MMO uses. That title released in 2012, with its most recent expansion "Path Of Fire" releasing in 2017. Since then, ArenaNet has continued to support the game, but the company hasn't announced any plans for the franchise or other projects that it might have in development. The only news to come out of the franchise recently was when two Guild Wars 2 writers got fired over tweets in 2018 that the company deemed inappropriate.
Now, according to Kotaku, ArenaNet will layoff a vast majority of its workforce. Although no one knows just how many people will lose their jobs, rumors suggest that those numbers will be significant. The company, which currently has around 400 employees, plans on cutting costs throughout its organization, as well as merge ArenaNet and NCSoft's publishing divisions. ArenaNet held meetings with its employees recently and told them that those laid off would get a severance package of two months, along with bonus time based on their tenure. In an email to employees, Songyee Yoon, the CEO of Korean publisher NCSoft West, which owns ArenaNet, wrote:
“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.”
Recently, Activision-Blizzard laid off 800 employees despite reporting its highest revenues ever. The layoffs brought the company under fire from the industry and gamers, particularly after reports surfaced that CFO Dennis Durkin received awards valuing around $15 million, along with a $900,000 yearly salary and a bonus of over $1 million. Many accused the company of nothing more than corporate greed in its firing of what it deemed nonessential employees.
ArenaNet's case is a little different, though. Their primary source of income, Guild Wars 2, is coming to the end of its life cycle and the company seems to have declining revenue because of it. Although ArenaNet supposedly has several unannounced projects in the works, one source said that slow development, along with no new games in the past two years, put a financial strain on the company. This could be similar to what happened with Telltale Games when layoffs began just before the company shut down. Is this the beginning of the end for ArenaNet? Or will these layoffs help the company refocus its strategy on new games? There are no answers yet, but layoffs are never a good sign for a company already struggling with revenue.