Yesterday, CCP made a very difficult announcement: http://www.eveonline.com/news.asp?a=single&nid=4769&tid=1

And so far, thanks to the work of Keith Nelson (his post here: http://keithneilson.co.uk/10/eve-online-ccp-lay-offs?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Keithneilsoncouk+%28keithneilson.co.uk%29), we have an initial list of those leaving CCP:

  • CCP Fallout
  • CCP Zymurgist
  • CCP Pann
  • Mike Read
  • CCP Wrangler
  • CCP Hammer
  • CCP Valar
  • CCP MaidenSteel
  • CCP Finnz
  • CCP Gnauton
  • Pall Ivarsson
  • Hilmir Þór Einarsson
  • GM Horse

Overall, 20% of the staff at CCP was laid off.. mostly from the Community Team.  Quite a few bloggers are upset, and some think of it as a conspiracy against the CSM and Eve Community as a whole.

To me, this has become a “Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t.” problem.

First off, my concerns go out to those who just lost their jobs.. particularly those in Atlanta, Georgia.  The unemployment system there doesn’t seem to be very people friendly and I hope you all (everywhere from CCP) get back on your feet very soon.

Second, I think I need to be a bit of a level head in this scenario, because some bloggers have gone after the CEO as if he was the spawn of Satan.  Others have essentially said, “Whelp, that’s what the community gets for being so difficult!”

So, let’s get back to reality here, and back a few years.  What Hilmar did is what every decent CEO should have done, he looks for opportunities to make CCP more money AND to keep CCP relevant.  THAT IS HIS JOB!  Now, I’m not saying we have to like what he did, but many of you have seen far worse CEOs in other popular MMOs and in Real Life (clearly no one seems to remember that the “Working as intended” meme originally came from the fail efforts at Sony Entertainment).  So, he gets World of Darkness and Dust 514 started.  Do I think they were bad ideas?  Yep.. but I ain’t clairvoyent.. and neither is anyone else.  These projects could have/possibly will make CCP a very dominant player in the world MMO market.  And that success means he can hire more people and make more money for both the company and its investors.  He took a risk.  He took a risk and it didn’t pan out like most risks don’t.  We should be glad they figured this out before the company went belly up or worse, bought out by someone with less scruples than an American politican.

On the flipside, that risk that Hilmar took did take away from Eve.  Problems that hounded the game for years, known to GMs, Developers, etc. and projects were only half released in Eve, then promptly forgotten about when the next new idea came along. The community was RIGHT to be outraged.  We are the customer, and here we see our favorite game being cannibalized on projects that the vast majority of us saw as either too grand or too fleeting.  We saw our efforts minimized by botting, our PVP hampered by hot dropping Supercaps, and Supercarriers that have been produced in such numbers and in the hands of so few groups that they have become an “I win” button, precluding any sort of combat.

We, the Eve community, were finally listened to and Hilmar, being the good CEO, aware of both a downturn in the economy and the need to focus more on balancing Eve Online, had to reduce his staff.  And where could he reduce his staff?  Getting rid of developers would have been a foolish move.  Reducing the pay of the CEO and staff would have been a nice gesture.. but it wouldn’t have made an impact financially.  Should you get rid of the janitors, the receptionist?  Would any of you really want to risk what another CEO might do? 

In a situation that CCP finds itself, there really aren’t many options.  Putting off DUST 514 and World of Darkness indefinately might have scared off investors because CCP would then be back to being a one-trick pony, having too much tied up into one product and not having the risk diversified.  Also you have contracts and agreements that cannot be set aside “just because”.  Plus, there is talent you need to keep for those other projects that you can’t just move over to Eve.  And in many respects, the CSM has some of the functions of The Community Team, bringing out major problems and working with CCP Developers to solve them.  What other group do you think you would get rid of and not impact the game poorly?  Again, while I may not like all that Hilmar has done.. he absolutely wants the game to succeed and CCP has absolutely changed their direction from what they were doing before to make sure it does.

Hopefully, CCP has inferred to each of those they laid off that they will be given first option to be picked up again when things smooth out.  I have some confidence that what CCP is doing right now will make the company stronger as a whole, and will give them a much better ability to add more people down the road.. which I hope will be very soon.