NCsoft consolidates Western operations, cuts development
NCSoft seems to be in the position of merging their operations, creating an NC West with headquarters in Seattle. ArenaNet is located in the neighbourhood there, so I guess that shows how well the performance of the former US HQ in Austin has been received by the main HQ in South Korea.
ArenaNet’s Guild Wars have certainly been the most successful Western title for NCSoft, followed by City of Heroes/Villains. The Lineage titles have not been doing so well and the more recent titles of Dungeon Runners and Tabula Rasa also have their share of problems.
The development efforts on some future game in Austin was cancelled, and now NCSoft is also reducing staff in their UK office. This seems to include cancelling development of new titles that they had ramped up before – much in line with what NCSoft seems to have been doing in the US.
Since NCSoft has both cancelled some titles under development and also cancelled publication of titles developed outside NCSoft (e.g. Blackstar), they seem very much to put more focus on fewer titles.
I can understand why they are doing this from a business perspective, it does makes sense. It is a bit too bad that their various efforts did not turn out well since they have at least had an innovative ambition here, trying new business models, new/different genres while most of the other major Western MMO companies mainly has been stuck in the fantasy-game-with-subscription-fee-model type of games.
I do hope that this also means that the separation of servers for US and EU sides in City of Heroes/Villains will be gone soon. NCSoft has removed the previous arguments for keeping them separate. At least one shared pool of servers would be an improvement from now, even if they do not go all the way to a serverless set-up a la Guild Wars. But at least Cryptic contemplated that before.
So I think this also means that the major titles we are going to see next from NCSoft will be Aion and Guild Wars 2 and that is about it for a foreseeable future. City of Heroes/Villains will get some more love. If Tabula Rasa manages to get some more subscribers they might still be around also, but they are not in a particularly good position now.
The name Garriott was also completely absent from the press releases surrounding this re-organisation. Interpret that as you want.