All is not well at Sony today. In what could easily be mistaken for an especially cruel, premature April Fools' Day prank, it has been announced that over 200 employees have been cut from the SOE workforce as a cost-reduction measure, as well as closing their studios in Tuscon, Seattle, and Denver. This follows earlier rumors of layoffs, originating in a tweet by George Broussard of 3d Realms, suggesting that the Seattle studio was experiencing layoffs that could result in its closure. Sony's MMO, The Agency has also felt the brunt of SOE's "strategic alignment of development resources." The previously delayed, spy-themed game had been set for release in late 2011, but has been canceled in the wake of the layoffs. In an official statement, Sony offered the following explanation:
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.
SOE also stated that duties from the closed studios will be handled by their San Diego headquarters. Kotaku had previously reported, quoting an unspecified, presumably inside source, that "half of the workforce at SOE offices in Austin, Texas were pink slipped along with a sizeable portion of San Diego." No details have been given as to the validity of those reports, or whether the mentioned workers will soon find their jobs in jeopardy, but the new transference of responsibility to SOE's San Diego location seems to allay fears of further job cuts -- one would expect that with the increased workload, they're going to need all the help they can get.
My thoughts go out to the affected employees, especially those who were working on The Agency. After years of work, I can only imagine how maddening it must be to see the fruits of your labor being scuttled do to "financial necessity." Here's to hoping something good comes your way.