As part of its third quarter financial announcements, EA has posted a significant loss and has indicated that up to 1500 jobs are going to be cut. The full cuts won’t be made until April 2010, but some studios were hit quicker than others, including Mythic, developer behind Warhammer: Age of Reckoning (WAR). There are indications that effective immediately 80 people have been let go from Mythic and that this is rumoured to be the majority of WAR’s live team.
This isn’t a surprising announcement at all – WAR has been on a long downhill run since launch, from about 1.2 million box sales / 750k odd active players at launch in September 2008 to around 300k players in February 2009 to rumours of less than 200k players by June 2009. With the launch of other big name titles in September 2009, those player numbers are probably even lower than that. I will be very surprised if WAR lasts long enough to see its second birthday, while the end of WAR might be the end of Mythic.
This move also potentially puts the future of Ultima Online at risk. Mark Jacobs, the former President of Mythic who EA fired in a previous wave of cost cutting, indicated that he was the one who convinced EA not to cancel UO. It’s fairly obvious that Mythic has no more pull within EA, so the next time EA goes looking for projects to cut, UO could easily be put on the chopping board.