That's hard news for any community to take, but apparently players have reason to be hopeful all the same. "It's a little more complicated than just layoffs," Bjorn Book-Larsson explained to me during a phone call this afternoon. Book-Larsson is the CEO of Reloaded, part of GamersFirst's assortment of MMO studios. He told me that the layoffs are part of a restructuring that's seen not just layoffs but the movement of developers between the APB and Fallen Earth teams, the latter of which has been given significant autonomy in terms of how it manages its resources.
Book-Larsson stressed to me that the majority of those laid off on the APB side were community and production staff, not coders and engineers, and in fact the studio also brought in some new staffers who'd previously worked on the studio's periphery (on Fallen Earth), though admittedly it wasn't a one-to-one replacement. Moreover, a chunk of community management has shifted from the studio's UK branch over to the US, where it can be shared between the teams.
Consequently, while players might notice fewer and different faces on the community team, they shouldn't see any change in the game's development itself. "On the coding side, the development side, very little has changed," he told me, "and the game is doing reasonably well" -- especially on Steam. Patch 1.13, for example, is still on schedule, and the devs will be focusing on planned performance and optimization updates to the game's oldish engine so that they can roll out the modern content APB deserves.
Still, Book-Larsson understands why players would be particularly upset about changes in the community team, the face of the game. "But the new team has a really great attitude toward the game and the community," he said.
He also wanted to reassure those worried about the shift in upper management, voicing confidence in Willmon's ability to helm APB as he's worked on multiple games for GamersFirst in the last decade and excels at leading the sort of team developing APB. "We've got to put our best resources on our most important project," he explained, and that includes Willmon.
Thanks to Bjorn Book-Larsson for speaking with me!
When readers want the scoop on a launch or a patch (or even a brewing fiasco), Massively goes right to the source to interview the developers themselves. Be they John Smedley or Chris Roberts or anyone in between, we ask the devs the hard questions. Of course, whether they tell us the truth or not is up to them!