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End of the line for STO?

Possible layoffs at Cryptic Studios

As spotted by Timur222 on X (former Twitter), several Cryptic Studios employees have posted on LinkedIn that they were recently laid off. This includes gameplay engineer David Nishball, senior technical artist Crhis Penny, and senior game designer Jesse Heinig.

The extent of the cuts is unclear, but overall, Cryptic Studios currently employs just under 180 people (via its LinkedIn).

It is worth noting that some employees clarified that they haven’t lost their jobs yet. But judging by different posts (most of them were written on Friday), it seems that dozens of Cryptic staffers are now looking for roles at other companies.

Among them are several artists, senior community manager Mike Fatum, sound designer Nigel A. Wilson, lead engineer Andy Maurer, and more.

“When everyone around you is facing such a tumultuous and chaotic future, how can you remain optimistic?” staff tech analyst Robert Mann wrote. “It is very difficult. As has been the norm as of late with a heartbreaking amount of other people, I am open to discuss possibilities and try to figure out the next step.”

My thoughts:

The writing has been on the wall since the loss of the foundry. When I made the April Fool Sunset post it wasn't entirely a joke, it was based on my personal thoughts on the direction of this business. During and since the pandemic most staff have worked remotely. This is a poor way of running a creative team, groups of writers, artists, and programmers need to be in the same room to brainstorm what can be done, but for me, it's as if they all lost interest and were doing the bare minimum for years.

The one episode every 4 months is a testament to the lack of foresight and/or the lack of investment in this game. Players have been telling them what they want for years and they almost never listen, and the last year has been nothing but sale after sale after lockbox after promoship to try and bring in enough funds to keep the current staff employed whilst having a little bit left over for a small amount of content. I don't believe the company was very profitable at all, I think that's a lie, I think it just about made enough money to keep plodding on.

In our fleets we have seen the gradual decline from over 300 active players around the time of the foundry closing to about 5 today. People aren't playing as much as they did and if they aren't playing they aren't spending. They aren't playing because with so many better gaming experiences out there who wants to do the same old TFO for the 500th time?

I personally stopped spending any money in this game almost a year ago having invested many thousands over the years. Sadly this is now a death spiral, anyone thinking of spending in STO will be discouraged by this news which will make the situation at Cryptic worse and encourage more people to look for work and probably facilitate a full on maintenance mode or even game shut down.

The only hope now is for a new investor/owner who sees the enormous potential of the game and is prepared to fund it. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening any time soon and probably not before many of the current talent has left.

It's been a good run, but all good things...

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