[UPDATE] Big Layoffs At Sony Online, The Agency Canceled

by Matthew Kato on Mar 31, 2011 at 08:21 AM

UPDATE: Sony Online has responded with an official statement (see below) confirming widespread layoffs, three studio closures, and the cancellation of long-in-development action/MMO The Agency.

The official statement reads:

As part of a strategic decision to reduce costs and streamline its global workforce, SOE announced today that it will eliminate 205 positions and close its Denver, Seattle and Tucson studios.  As part of this restructuring, SOE is discontinuing production of The Agency so it can focus development resources on delivering two new MMOs based on its renowned PlanetSide and EverQuest properties, while also maintaining its current portfolio of online games.  All possible steps are being taken to ensure team members affected by the transition are treated with appropriate concern.
This strategic decision will have no impact on SOE’s current portfolio of live games; additionally SOE will transition development efforts for the Denver and Tucson studios’ suite of products to its San Diego headquarters.  This strategic alignment of development resources better positions SOE to remain a global leader in online gaming and deliver on its promise of creating entertaining games for players of all ages, and servicing the 20 million players that visited SOE servers in just the past year.

Ouch. Our condolences, as always, to the newly unemployed. Let's hope that the bit about current SOE games being unaffected is true; EverQuest II and DC Universe Online are both solid MMOs with significant fanbases.

ORIGINAL STORY: Word is that things are far from well at Sony Online Entertainment, developer/publisher of titles like DC Universe Online (shown) and Free Realms.

3D Realms' George Broussard tweeted that SOE Seattle was laying off enough employees that a studio closure was possible. Kotaku added fuel to the fire with a report that SOE layoffs were also occurring in various SOE studios at San Diego, Tuscon, Denver, and Austin – enough that it could amount to up to a third of SOE's studio staff.

We're trying to contact SOE for more info on the matter, and we'll let you know what we hear.