Sony Online Entertainment Lays Off Staff in Austin, San Diego

Sony Online Entertainment said on Wednesday that it will eliminate positions in both its San Diego and Austin studios as part of a strategic decision to reduce costs and streamline its workforce. The studio assures both PC and PlayStation fans alike that this move will not have any impact on current and upcoming games in progress.

"This strategic alignment of resources better positions SOE to remain a global leader in online games, as well as to align development resources towards our current portfolio of MMOs and the highly-anticipated future installments of the EverQuest franchise, EverQuest Next Landmark and EverQuest Next," the company said.

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The studio currently maintains a number of PC-based and PlayStation 3 titles including Planetside 2, DC Universe Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Wizardry Online, Free Realms and many others. The company just revealed the next stage in its flagship MMO's evolution, EverQuest Next, along with the EverQuest Next Landmark toolkit, the latter of which arrives sometime this winter.

"As a company, our goal is to focus on our core expertise of MMO games and as part of these efforts, we had to make the difficult decision to eliminate positions," the studio said on the SOE forums. "We deeply value our employees and are grateful for all they’ve contributed to our company and games. They will be missed by colleagues and friends, and we wish them well in the future."

SOE did not disclose how many people will be affected by the layoffs.

Polygon reportedly acquired a company-wide email written by SOE president John Smedley who called the layoffs a "horrible, sickening experience". He said that many SOE titles are still performing well, but the layoffs were necessary to bring expenses in line with the company's current revenue.

"For the past year we've done everything possible to avoid this situation," said Smedley. "We rightfully should have done this nearly a year ago but we have been fighting very hard to keep this from happening."

Smedley then stated that the company needed to improve its performance so that it can rehire those individuals that lost their jobs. He knows most of them personally, he said, some of which have been with the company since the very beginning. None of these people deserved to lose their jobs, he said.

"Our goal as a company needs to be to make incredible games and grow again so we can bring our friends back," he said in the email. "We're aren't slowing down development on [EverQuest Next] at all. In fact you can fully expect it to ramp up and a lot of people will end up helping to make the most amazing thing we've ever done as a company."

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  • "We are firing you so that we can hire you again in the future."
  • I used to know John Smedley and Russell Shanks in Mt. Carmel High School - AP Computer Science. Too bad this had to happen :(
  • Usually, a company is legally obligated to make an announcement like this when a significant number of people are being laid off. This is too bad.

    Sony has been getting smaller for a while now. They used to be a great company.