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More WotC layoffs

December 2nd, 2008: Allan Sugarbaker says...
More WotC layoffs

Just like back in August, Wizards of the Coast has laid off employees today. Rumors are still swirling about the number of employees affected, though around 24 seems the prevailing estimate. According to a post at ENWorld by Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens, today’s layoffs include the following:

  • Randy Buehler (VP of digital gaming)
  • Andrew Finch (director of digital games)
  • Stacy Longstreet (senior art director)
  • Julia Martin (editor)
  • William Meyers (creative manager, digital design)
  • Dave Noonan (game designer, D&D podcast cohost)
  • Jennifer Paige (online community manager)
  • Jennifer Powers (marketing)
  • Jonathan Tweet (game designer)

With today’s staff cuts, WotC joins Upper Deck in having a pair of layoff rounds this year alone. While this has some gamers wondering if the layoffs are caused by D&D 4e being less successful than expected, others mention similar cuts made shortly after the release of 3.0 and 3.5.

10 Comments »

10 comments

  1. Asylos says:

    Not Noonan! Noooooo. But I need him for my DnD Podcasts!

    Bad news all around. Best of luck to them all.

  2. alfblack says:

    What the HECK!!! they fired game designers??!! Both are good caliber too. Man, that is nuts. Poor folks. Best wishes to them.

    Digital Gaming? They have digital games? Oh, whats that called. that social network thing.

  3. Troy_Costisick says:

    They have Magic: The Gathering Online which makes them big bucks.

    Anyway, I have a hard time believing Tweet and Beuhler were laid off. They must have had something else in the wings and agreed to go. If those two guys can get sacked, then there is no one safe at WotC.

  4. Monte Cook has commented on the layoff as well. An interesting quote:

    From a larger perspective than just yesterday, it’s become clear that WotC’s become a company that not only doesn’t value experience, it avoids it. (And looks at least somewhat disdainfully, rather than fondly, upon its own past.) […] There’s a real danger of losing continuity with these kinds of layoffs. Dangers involving making old mistakes and not remembering what was learned in old lessons.

  5. Mike Sugarbaker says:

    > While this has some gamers wondering if the layoffs are caused by D&D 4e being less successful than expected, others mention similar cuts made shortly after the release of 3.0 and 3.5.

    It does make a kind of sense to staff up for heavy development periods and then slim down once the heavy lifting is done; you see this pattern in video game publishers as well. But at least the video game companies are starting to figure out that it makes even more sense to stick with contractors to begin with, rather than basing your whole industry around whipsawing people back and forth between employee and un-.

    Very, very interesting (in the Chinese-curse sense) that Buehler was let go.

  6. Twilight2000 says:

    >It does make a kind of sense to staff up for heavy development periods and then slim down >once the heavy lifting is done;

    It would make sense — if that’s what were happening. But these are oldtimers — especially the designers — that date back to before Hasbro in some cases. This isn’t cutting the fat — we’re deep into muscle at this point. I hope to hell Noonan and Tweet had something else lined up (as well as all the others).

  7. Spiral Bound Notebook says:

    I have no idea if this is, or is not, true, but a close colleague of mine at one time, recently, worked at Hasbro (not WOTC). He said, in terms of corporate culture, designers at Hasbro are treated as a disposable commodity, and marketing is the king of the castle. While there’s a finite supply of analog game designers, there’s also finite opportunities for them and they’re usually not well-positioned to make demands. Where there’s a large supply of MBAs with marketing experience there’s also many opportunities at bigger and better paying companies than at a Rhode Island toy manufacturer.

    The reverse of this has been the case at WOTC, he said, where, until recently, R&D ran the show for no other reason than that’s how the company was founded and management never pressed this issue.

    With a new President coming from Hasbro ranks it’s probably safe to assume that R&D has been “put in their place,” akin to the role R&D has at many companies; locked in the basement, people who are to be seen, not heard.

    Can WOTC get away with that?

    Of course they can. If someone in R&D is disgruntled and wants to storm off, to where will they storm? The number of /full-time-with-benefits/ jobs designing pen & paper RPGs in the United States probably numbers in the very low 3 digits – perhaps less than 100 even? And what percentage of those are controlled by WOTC? And what percentage of the remaining have much turnover?

  8. Matthijs says:

    They what? Jonathan Tweet?

  9. Bob Slaughter says:

    Sorry to see both Andrew Finch and Jonathan Tweet go. I know Andrew was hip-deep in Dreamblade, and the collapse of that probably didn’t sit well with folks. But maybe we’ll see the updated version of Theatrix now. 🙂

    I’m sure Jonathan will land somewhere; he’s too good a designer not to, though I suspect he’ll take a breather first if he can.

  10. Spiral Bound Notebook says:

    As someone who owns 14 shares of Hasbro I do feel for everyone who was let go, but, hey, I just made $2.80 out of the deal!

    http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Hasbro-Inc-Announces-Quarterly-Cash/story.aspx?guid={C8A8D31D-9D93-45A0-975F-99914F3D0BB2}

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