December 3, 2008

Word of Wizards - Staff Layoffs

Christmas is the time of the year when we spend the rest of the year with our families happily knowing that our lives are secured and settled for the year and the year to come.

This is not so for some of us this year.

This morning I received some shocking rumors that there were some layoffs over at Wizards of the Coast and it has spread throughout the blogs like wildfire.

You can see what has been said by the bloggers from the following
Geek Related
The Core Mechanic
Purple Pawn
The Gamer Dome

and even...

Sean K. Reynolds

Over at ENWorld, a thread was started when some forumers also heard about this rumor and were asking the community for verification. It was not until Lisa Stevens, CEO of Paizo, had we known who were the ones being let go.

Here are the names I have confirmed as of a few minutes ago:

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)
Jennifer Paige (online community manager)
Jennifer Powers (marketing)
Jonathan Tweet (game designer)

-Lisa Stevens
Paizo Publishing
(emphasis mine)

The names that have been bolded are the ones that I recognise for their contribution to 4th edition and D&D as a whole.

Randy Buehler, if you have been following his weekly writeup through my previous Word of Wizards, is one of the main movers behind the Digital Initiative and DDI.

Although he could be blamed for the failure of Gleemax and the delay of the full applications of DDI after the launch of 4E, he has connected with the fans through his weekly Digital Insider. He has kept us up to date with the latest developments of the DDI and with the recent launch of the Character Builder beta, things were looking good for him until now.

As you can see, this week's Digital Insider is not up and while the editorial calendar states that it will continue next week, I wonder who will be taking the helm.

It is also important to note that out of the 9 names in the list, there are 3 people who have digital-related jobs which seems to show that the DDI has taken quite a big blow to their roster. What does this bode to the future development of DDI in future, we shall see but right now it's looking to be pretty grim.

Stacy Longstreet was not a name I recognised at first glance but given her job title and position, I went to look up on my books. She has been credit on the front covers of the 4E PHB, DMG, MM and the Adventurer's Vault for her art direction.

I would have to say that she has left quite a mark before she left because the direction that she has taken in the core books would most likely set the direction of how future supplements would be.

Still, it is sad to say that her direction which could be the one that will inspire the new and current generation of the future roleplayers will not be staying in the company that made the game anymore.

Julia Martin is an editor and her name has also be credited in the 3 core rulebooks for editing and even also for additional design and development in the PHB and DMG.

Now the biggest names from the list are the ones that most of us should probably recognise and are also the ones that most of us find shocking.

Dave Noonan has been a designer for D&D for 10 years. His most recent work is being one of the main designers for Martial Power. He was also involved in additional design and development work for 4E but he is most recognised as being part of the duo of the bi-weekly D&D podcast together with Mike Mearls.

Again, another icon that is recognised among the fans, won't be showing his face anymore. I particularly liked the video podcast of the play session he did with some of the Wizards staff.

Jonathan Tweet is a name that I recall from the 3.x days for he was behind the 3.x core books. He could certainly work for Paizo for his knowledge in that edition.

Although there were no confirmations from Wizards as of the time of this posting, Dave Noonan was confirmed to be a casualty when he chimed in to the forum as well.

Thanks for the kind words, folks. They mean a great deal. And my wife was reading over my shoulder, and they cheered her up _immensely_.

I can confirm the essential truth of what's been reported, and I am indeed one of the ones let go today. When you're in the midst of the process, you don't really get a sense of what's going on elsewhere in the building. Thus I didn't know some of the names until I read them here. They're quality people. In a weird way, I'm proud to be among them. (I'd rather be employed, sure, but you take the solace you can at a moment like this.)

I'll leave the prognosticating and "...but what does this MEAN?!?" stuff to others. I think the game is in good shape--and I think it's in good hands. In my 10 years at Wizards, I survived a lot of these layoffs--including cuts deeper than this. More to the point for you guys, the _game_ survived deeper cuts than this.

Maybe I didn't say this enough when I was part of "the Man," but the ENWorld community is absolutely terrific. The level of discourse here continues to be top-notch, and there's always an interesting thread sitting right there, begging to be read. But if you're already a regular here, you've already figured that out, huh?

--David Noonan, who should probably get a new user name.

This caused alot of pouring in of condolences and best of luck from every corner of the community. They emphatise and sympathise these talents and writers that have brought us 4th edition and DDI.

It seems to be a trend for WoTC/Hasbro to do this to their staff after the launch of a new edition and I really have nothing good to say about that policy if it were true but I think that might deserve another post altogether.

Anyways, I really wish these people all the best and hope they do find a better job very soon. I would like to thank you all for the great work and contributions you have done for D&D and 4E so don't let that 1 stop you from rolling a 20 the next time!


Jonathan said...

thanks for the write up! and the bump! my post was only minutes after hearing the news last night on the RPG bloggers forum. Ed Healy brought my attention to the news.. and it has spread from there.

Questing GM said...

Yeah, same here. However I decided to wait out for any confirmation from Wizards but I guess that didn't happen.