Rumor: NCsoft Austin, Dungeon Runners to be shut down

Michael Zenke
M. Zenke|08.12.08

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Massively and Joystiq have learned that serious shakeups may be in the future for the Austin game development scene. The closure of Midway's Austin studio came as something of a surprise earlier this week, but we've now learned that the MMO industry may be set to experience turmoil as well. NCsoft Austin, home to the Richard Garriott-lead title Tabula Rasa and the free-to-play romp Dungeon Runners, may be in a precarious position today. In fact, industry insiders have indicated that the NCsoft home offices may be considering closing the Austin studio. Massively has followed the numerous troubles faced by Tabula Rasa, in the face of disappointing sales and subscriber figures and apparent frustration from the company's Korean HQ.

A well-placed source with the company reported the studio's position to Joystiq, confirming similar information provided to Massively by a trustworthy third party. According to our sources, any or all of the following may be in the works:
  • NCsoft Austin will be closed, with work on Tabula Rasa to be moved to the West coast. Dungeon Runners is apparently to be closed. Los Angeles is home to the development-in-the-dark Carbine Studios effort, while the San Francisco area is home to the City of Heroes development team. Seattle, of course, plays host to and Joystiq reports that's where TR will be headed.
  • This shakeup is only affecting Austin; the City of Heroes and Guild Wars teams are unaffected, as are the teams based out of the Korean offices.
  • Future collaborations between NCsoft and the Garriott brothers will be very limited in scope, a sign of the frustrations between the Korean executives and the sibling-lead NCsoft North American office.
  • Tabula Rasa may see closure by this time next year, if the team fails to turn the tide of subscribers and expectations.
We freely admit that this is not confirmed information; we attempted to get a response from NCsoft representatives early today, but so far have not received word back. Massively and Joystiq will keep you posted as this story develops, and in the meantime our well wishes go out to the artists, developers, and designers affected by this news.
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