Former Planetside 2 Producer David Carey Shares Thoughts on ColumbusNova

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary

From former Planetside 2 producer David Carey on Planetside 2’s Reddit:

Hey guys,

I came on to say goodbye to you guys (at least in my current role, prepare for lurking), but after scanning the front page I wanted to change the flavor of the post a bit.

Columbus Nova deserves no hate in all this. They are more like white knights than negative forces here. SOE needed a shake up/new direction, and CN provided that. They have done nothing but been gracious in their new ownership, and they went out of their way to make sure that Devs and support teams that got laid off were taken care of. Right now things seem shitty, and of course for the folks that were let go, today was rough, but CN and DB were both very open about the need for restructuring. This wasn’t a surprise to folks in the company.

Gaming is a tough industry, and not for everyone. I’ve seen lots of people come and go, both good and otherwise. The fact is, there are no (or at least, extremely few) permanent gaming jobs. If you want to have just one job in your career, don’t pick gaming, or even computer software. It’s just the nature of the beast in such a pioneering industry. But the flip side is that there is always a new opportunity awaiting, it just may require a move to a new location or some other sacrifice.

Most of the let go folks will be working in the gaming industry soon. The rest may decide to move on to other, less volatile lines of work. But no one I talked to regrets their time making games for folks to enjoy. It’s a rare job that lets you bring pleasure to so many people’s lives.

Back to the subject – if you guys feel angry or betrayed, it would be misdirected to place that at the feet of the new company. They didn’t bring in new staff to replace us, or say we did a shitty job and treat us poorly – they looked at the bottom line and the numbers just didn’t line up. The new layout lines up now, and the goal is that DB can be successful and move on from this and eventually expand again. Saying “I’m cancelling my sub” or “I’m never buying another thing in PS2” isn’t the right tactic, as much as the former Devs appreciate the intent of your support. If you want to make a positive impact, then keep doing what you’re doing – if you like the game, play it. Give feedback. Get your friends to play. Buy what you want to, and what you feel gives you value. If you aren’t happy, tell DB through the means you do now, social media and /bug reports. The game will grow or shrink depending on how you guys act, which is how it should be. If you make a statement on principal for the dearly departed devs, you will be hurting the remaining staff who have worked just as hard to make you guys a game you like to play. They may not be all names you know, but trust me, they put their blood, sweat, and tears into this.

TL;DR – CN didn’t do this, it was something that had to be done. CN is providing a chance for the games you love to continue going

-David C, former PS2 Producer

Edit: Ugh seeing the ‘former dev’ post header brought things home; I’ll miss you and your well-meaning pitchforks 🙁

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Comments (23)

  • oakmiser

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    This is exactly why I’m not discouraged to the point of stopping with the project I’ve set forth with my fan youtube channel. Unless they change the ability to use footage and sound from the game freely I’ll keep producing content that I feel the community would enjoy, and that I’d enjoy making.

    Reply

    • Tarb

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      Have a link or name for you channel?
      Im always looking for up to date EQ2 vids 🙂

      Reply

  • Eric T Lewis

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    I would just like somebody in charge to say hey were not going to sunset eq2, that we have at least a years plan. Some of us have yearly subs that are due for renewal.

    Reply

  • Betony

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    Feldon, thanks for posting this letter. It’s a great response to all the knee-jerkers out there. I’m sure the usual line up of poo-poo’ers will post and that’s cool. I’m just happy to see this letter.

    Lots of thanks to you, too, Feldon!

    Reply

  • Malleria

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    I doubt EQ2 is going to be sunset after this. Not for a while anyway. It wouldn’t make sense from a PR perspective to piss off the players by firing a bunch of staff only to announce a few days later that the game is going to close. They’d make the closure announcement first, then no one would blink an eye at the fact devs were being laid off.

    Reply

  • Carnifex

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    You ever hear the story about how to do a classy exit and burn no bridges? This is how you do it, good job posting this, Feldon.

    Reply

  • mithreal

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    Awesome exit letter.

    Who thought CN came in and picked out who was going to go and who would stay. Rather they came with numbers and made an offer hard to refuse. Are the remaining folks hostages?

    It’s never the new owner’s fault. Uh huh.

    There will be plenty of new resources if you do the marketing. It will be your fault if the games sunset soon.

    Don’t blame CN or Smedley. Blame yoselves.

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      Blame yourselves? That doesn’t even make any sense.

      Reply

      • mithreal

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        It was poorly done sarcasm.

        Reply

  • Kallinia

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    If what Feldon writes is correct (EQ2 being the powerhorse and bringing in the money), I don’t see them sunsetting EQ2. I have my doubts about H1whatever, Next and LM, though.

    And for those whose yearly sub will be due shortly : switch to monthly or maybe quarterly. Then you have time to react. Quick fix 🙂

    Reply

  • arx

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    If you want to change the direction of company after takeover, you replace the upper management. The should have fired people who are responsible for the number ie Smed, Holy etc, without them being gone direction will hardly change.

    Reply

  • Edoo

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    They didn’t bring in new staff to replace us

    He says this in a positive way but it could be part of the problem. Exactly how few people will it really take to keep this going?

    Reply

  • Archangel

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    Of course the things social media consultants toss out for spin control are ‘criticism comes from the fringes’ or ‘you’re conspiracy nuts’ or ‘if you don’t like it leave’ or ‘this is the way *fill in the blank* works’ or ‘trust us, we know what we’re doing’.

    Very old tactics.
    http://archive.tobacco.org/Documents/documents.html
    http://community.seattle
    times.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20010823&slug=microlob23
    http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/ms_index.htm
    Very boring.

    David Carey – “Columbus Nova deserves no hate in all this. They are more like white knights than negative forces here.”

    And yet, Investment companies when buying a new property, consistently layoff staff, shrink infrastructure, and position the new property to a obtain a quick return on investment.

    We’ve just seen the first, and waiting for the extent of two and three.
    There’s a fine line between venture capitalists and vulture capitalists; the state of the company when the changes are done.

    David Carey – Generic pep talk.
    Here’s another variation, content applicable to Ford a few years back:
    “Automotive is a tough industry, and not for everyone. Lots of people come and go, both good and otherwise. The fact is, there are no (or at least, extremely few) permanent automotive jobs. …”

    Or the airline industry, or aerospace, or …

    “”Get a job.”
    That’s just the way it is
    Some things will never change
    That’s just the way it is
    Ah, but don’t you believe them” Bruce Hornsby

    David Carey – “Back to the subject – if you guys feel angry or betrayed, it would be misdirected to place that at the feet of the new company.”

    True, because nothing has happened to affect any gamers. Until something happens, there’s no point being punitive.

    David Carey – “The new layout lines up now, and the goal is that DB can be successful and move on from this and eventually expand again.”

    With nothing specific, it remains vapor-promises.
    As Feldon wisely stated, “wait and see”.

    I’m waiting to see the extent of #2 and #3. But based on what Investment companies have done in the past, I’m holding on tightly to the wallet until DayBreak (“Rising Sun”) Games ‘shows me the games’.

    ‘No honey, no money.’

    /*

    “No two letters are identical, but the giveaway lies in the phrasing.”

    Reply

  • bhagpuss

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    As someone currently working for a company that underwent a similar sell-off and restructuring several years back Davis Carey’s take on what’s happening does make sense. In our case there was a great deal of short-term restructuring followed by consolidation. A lot of people left, some voluntarily, others not so much, and we now all do more work with fewer people.

    Judging by the feedback I get from them directly, however, our customers are a lot happier with what they’re getting now than with what they were getting before. These things don’t always work out for the best but then they don’t always NOT work out for the best either.

    It’s not going to be comfortable but we’re just going to have to wait and hope. A couple of years from now we could be saying the sale was the best thing that ever happened to the EQ franchise – or we could all be playing other games and looking back at what we lost. and shaking our heads.

    Personally I will keep my two All Access accounts running even though I only spend maybe 10% of my gaming time in all of the games added together these days.

    Reply

    • Gourdon

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      bhagpuss,

      More context needs to be defined before what is going on with CN and SOE can be defined as a good or bad relationship.

      Is SOE a company of innovation or a brand monetizing machine? I would contend that Everquest is not a very valuable brand. It has visibility, but doesn’t drive sales in and of itself. For SOE to be anything other than a dying corpse that is being squeezed for blood, there needs to be an innovative new product. Then, the visibility of Everquest becomes valuable.

      There are different kinds of private equity in the world. At the innovation end of the spectrum there is venture capital, where investments are made to build something that will be profitable in the future. At the other end, there is private equity that employs leverage to magnify returns on the small portion of equity they put in. This is the kind of investor that sees a money making machine and squeezes the system to wring out higher returns to meet debt obligations.

      When the first thing CN does is cut staff from divisions that have been in a continuous cycle of staff cuts, it says something about what is going on, but I see two scenarios with several possible implications.

      In case number one, SOE is cash flow neutral or losing money. In this case, CN is making cuts to make room for new development projects that aren’t currently on the plan, or they are staunching the losses to make the company break even.

      In case number two, SOE is cash flow neutral or positive, but CN has employed leverage to acquire SOE, or CN has dividend obligations to meet. Then, CN is making cuts to service the debt used to acquire SOE or to pay dividends to investors. Either way, they have little in the way of plans to invest further in SOE’s games and are focused on what SOE can pay out today. This point of view is the death of innovation at any company gripped by it. It only works in a brand monetization business.

      My conclusion is that from this rapid staff cut we pretty much know that CN does not want to actually invest in SOE’s future prospects. They view SOE as a being a self-feeding business and revenues should meet development and advertising costs, and most probably pay a dividend or interest payments. They made these cuts to either enhance the profitability of SOE or they did so to make room for new development, most likely for a game that isn’t in the pipeline yet.

      Reply

  • EazyPeazy

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    My accounts will remain open and when my yearly subs renew, I will switch to month to month.

    Still having fun in the game. When I log in nothing has changed with the game, just the players. I hope many will stay around,give things a chance, and continue to have fun. I still do and look forward to having others to have that fun with!

    These types of business sales happen all the time, and people, as bhagpuss said, leave (or are told to leave). Many of us are personally affected because in some cases these employees are our “friends”, which gives us a personal stake in their lives. It is a part of the gaming genre.

    I want EQ2 to stay around for a long time. I love the game and have tried others. They don’t hook me like this one does. I will personally do my best to be sure folks who are logging in get help if they need it, and not the doom and gloom that seems so prevalent right now.

    Best wishes and best of luck to everyone at Daybreak. Change is hard, and scary. Those of you on to new adventures, “hunt well” as I like to say, stay positive and land on your feet! Do know the game you helped create and maintain has meant a lot to those of us who have played, and is greatly and forever appreciated!

    Reply

  • UnknownPerson1

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    I am really suprised how long this stayed quiet, this sale has been in the works for months. The last hurdle to sell the company was the class action suit that was settled 3 weeks ago. So for those of you suprised by this look at the time line. Nova has been in the balance books of SOE for months and was just waiting for the class action to clear to buy and take over. Watch for more very quickly.

    Reply

  • Zzzz'z

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    I’m here until the servers are turned off.

    As for these layoffs….this is common practice in business….when an exisiting business owner wants to cut back they usually start axing at the bottom…but when a new owner takes over a business they usually start axing from the top…..and at the end of the day…most remaining employees find they are doing more work with less people.

    Reply

  • Daalilama

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    Keeping Smed the bringer of death while laying off so many talented (even if I disagreed with some of their work) people makes about as much sense as a screen door on a submarine.

    One wonders how much of the staff let go could have remained if smed’s paycheck and moronic decisions wasn’t there…

    Reply

  • Robin

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    The anger is aimed at the apparent hypocrisy of telling us last week that everything would remain stable, the gutting some of the highest profiles this week.

    Had they told us that considered changes are yet in the works, the community as a whole would not have erupted as violently.

    Wishing all those displaced nothing but the best, to land in happy waters where they can thrive.

    Wishing I felt like I could trust and support Columbus / Renova, but having a hard time at the moment…

    Reply

  • Sharisnarr

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    I will admit to have been worried, but the article here is right. There is no real need to panic over all this. Like any industry that has progress and change as part of it’s mandate, it’s just natural that this was going to happen sooner or latter.

    Reply

  • Hoot

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    I’ve said time and time again; the game industry is a rough place. Some that were laid off weren’t fit for the industry and if The glass door reviews on SoE are correct, many were hired without the right qualifications . I’m sorry but people who got hired by Smedley for being a dedicated fan, a QA who was promoted off the street, or were one of his friends shouldn’t be kept on board. Harsh sure, but that’s how the industry works and SoE crumbled because of nepotism and hiring unqualified individuals.

    Reply

  • Oxymorphone

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    I don’t know but I rather hear this from CN than one that has just been let go.

    Reply

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