– By Ben L.
EA announced on Tuesday that developer BioWare had restructured its Austin studio, the development team behind Star Wars: The Old Republic. While some of the staff were reshuffled to other studios within EA, it is not known exactly how many were let go by the company.
BioWare’s CEO Ray Muzyka and co-founder Greg Zeschuk broke the news in a forum post on the game’s official forum page:
Hey folks, since you’re reading this you may likely have heard that we’ve done some restructuring here on the SWTOR team. Sadly, we are bidding farewell to some talented, passionate and exceptionally hard-working people who helped make SWTOR a reality. Impacting people’s lives this way is always very hard, but we’re ensuring the affected people are treated with dignity, fairness and respect.
It must seem that the force is not strong with Star Wars: The Old Republic, as EA noted a drop in subscribers since the game’s launch from 1.7 million to 1.3 million. Despite the saddening news, Bioware still displayed its commitment to the game by announcing new details about the upcoming 1.3 ‘Allies’ update, which adds new features including a group finder tool, legacy perks, adaptive gear, and more.
Another Bioware game will also be receiving an update next month. EA announced the Rebellion Pack for Mass Effect 3 which will be available starting May 29 on Xbox Live and Origin, and on PlayStation Network in North America on May 29 and in Europe on May 30. The Rebellion Pack adds two brand-new maps, new unlockable characters, a new team objective and a new equipment slot to the cooperative mode. The pack is only available for free if you have redeemed your Mass Effect 3 online pass.
The Rebellion Pack includes:
- Two New Action-Packed Maps – Land on Firebase Jade, located in a Salarian STG base on Sur’Kesh and fight to control Firebase Goddess on the Asari homeworld of Thessia.
- Six Powerful New Unlockable Characters – Level and promote six new unlockable characters, including the ex-Cerberus Adept and Vanguard, the Vorcha Soldier and Sentinel or the Male Quarian Engineer and Infiltrator.
- New In-Mission Objective – Randomly occurring during waves 3, 6 and 10, this new objective will demand that teams retrieve a high priority package and securely escort it to a designated extraction zone on each map.
- New Gear Slot – A new slot will be available on the equipment screen, offering players a persistent gameplay bonus that will not expire after the end of a match. These new items will vary from weapon upgrades to character enhancements and will be available through reinforcement packs.
- Lethal New Weapons – Eliminate the enemy with deadly new weapons, including the Cerberus Harrier, Krysae Sniper Rifle, and Reegar Carbine.
In other unfortunate news, 38 studios which developed the single-player RPG title Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has laid off all its staff and shut down developer Big Huge games, the Rise of Nations developer which it acquired from THQ in 2009. 38 studios had reportedly missed a loan payment last week, having loaned $75m from the Economic Development Corporation of Rhode Island state. Details are still scarce and unclear at this time, but a purported internal email confirmed the layoffs:
The Company is experiencing an economic downturn. To avoid further losses and possibility of retrenchment, the Company has decided that a company-wide lay off is absolutely necessary. These layoffs are non-voluntary and non-disciplinary. This is your official notice of lay off, effective today, Thursday, May 24th, 2012.
Not all hope is lost, as Forbes posted a slightly optimistic piece about the consequences of shutting down the game studio.
Payday: The Heist developer Overkill announced that it would be collaborating with Valve on a new game which would be a blend of both Payday and the commercially successful zombie game Left 4 Dead. No further details were given.
Considering that both developers worked on console-exclusives featuring decent cooperative gameplay, this collaboration holds a lot of promise. What do you think of PayDead – Zombies rob a bank to hit back at their employer’s unpaid salaries? Well since they’re zombies you can guess how long those cheques have been overdue.
The release of the unofficial sequel to James Cameron’s Aliens movie (which was in turn a sequel to the original Alien by Ridley Scott) has been delayed to 2013. Good news is, a release date has been confirmed. Alien: Colonial Marines will be available on February 12 and sees players as a member of a rescue squad dispatched to the stricken (and infested) spaceship Sulaco from the film.
Publisher Take-Two announced that the release of the XCOM shooter game will be pushed back to the 2013 fiscal year, which begins April 1. This is not the first time the game has met with delays – it was originally slated for release last year, and then March 6 2012 before tentatively slated for a March 2013 release. The other XCOM RTS title, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, has been confirmed for an October 9 release.
January will also see the release of the new Devil May Cry title. Capcom confirmed that the game will be coming to the Xbox 360 and PS3 on January 15 and the PC sometime later. The Devil May Cry game will be fully localized with voice talent in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. In addition, Polish, Dutch, Russian, and Brazilian Portuguese languages will be supported with localized text.