The transitioning Turbine

turbine

“Turbine is transitioning into a free-to-play, mobile development studio, and as a result we are eliminating some positions. The Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons online games will continue to operate as they do now. Re-focusing and reducing the studio size was a difficult decision for the company, and we are grateful to all of the Turbine staff for their considerable contributions.”

So grateful, in fact, that we kicked them out of the building! So long, see ya, we’re mobile now!

Oh Turbine, what happened to you? A death of a thousand cuts or a hundred bad decisions? Was it free-to-play in the end? Trying too hard to do too much? Your Infinite Crisis gambit? The decline of the MMO industry? Selling out to WB?

You used to be this mighty indie studio that pumped out beloved hits. You looked forward on MMOs and delivered an incredible vision of Middle-earth that we loved for years. You had three highly lucrative IPs under your belt.

I’m kind of furious about these layoffs. It makes me downright mad to see a studio that used to show such passion and talent for MMOs to be groveling for the scraps of mobile gaming. It ticks me off that good people who have poured so much work into these titles have been shown the door. And it makes me quite nervous for the future of the current library of titles.

Notice that Asheron’s Call 1/2 isn’t mentioned there. Maybe it doesn’t need to be; these games were put into maintenance mode last year and probably make next to no profit. But at least the gamers had the hopes that the light switch would stay on. That above statement does not give me the confidence that this will be the case.

And that whole “will continue to operate as they do now” is such an ominous and nebulous statement. What does that mean? This could be saying that the games will be kept running but no more development will happen (again, maintenance mode while they drain the last dollars from the pockets of the loyalists). It could be a statement of assurance that the games will continue running and receive some attention, perhaps from a reduced team. We really don’t know, mostly because bland and unhelpful PR statements like this are the worst.

Turbine execs, you better be going to bed tonight sick to your stomach at what has happened on your watch. Mobile studio? Shoot, you haven’t even proven you can do that much yet. And with that, I don’t have any further reason to care about what you do.

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12 thoughts on “The transitioning Turbine

  1. Haffle July 8, 2016 / 9:20 am

    So frustrating to see them implode like this.

  2. Pierre July 8, 2016 / 10:39 am

    +1000 Justin, feeling exactly the same about this very sad news. 😦

  3. Tanek July 8, 2016 / 10:39 am

    For years people have been talking about the 2017 renewal required for LOTRO’s IP. I don’t know that there has been any news on what is actually happening with it now.

    I do have to wonder, though, with what seems to have been a push to move the story along faster in the past year, whether they saw this coming and are (were) trying to give players some kind of wrap-up just in case the end is near.

  4. Aywren July 8, 2016 / 2:16 pm

    You put my feelings into words. I haven’t played LOTRO for a while, but I’m still disappointed and sad. :/

  5. Redbeard July 8, 2016 / 6:34 pm

    It’s like the old Dilbert line about layoffs: “We have to round up all of the most experienced people and pay them to leave.”

    Were I Turbine, I’d not go mobile right now. There’s too many players in mobile, and it’s not worth sinking tons of money into unless you’re going to leverage your in house IP titles. What mobile reminds me of the most right now is the dot com bubble circa 1999. I worked for a CAD/CAM software company back then, and we were all summoned to an all hands meeting at the end of 1999. Not exactly sure what the meeting was about, we joked that it’d be an announcement from our CEO that we were going to make our CAD/CAM product web-based. It was ludicrous, we believed, because a) there wasn’t enough internet bandwidth from ISPs back then to handle a web conversion, b) the performance demands on browsers would be astronomical, and c) our CAD/CAM product was designed to be run on beefy UNIX workstations (SGI, HP, IBM) and PCs (with WinNT) simply didn’t have the horsepower to handle the software.

    But sure enough, our CEO said “we’re putting our software into the web!”

    It became the product that killed the company, allowing a competitor to buy us out.

    And that is what I fear Turbine is getting themselves into with this movement toward mobile.

  6. Fredelas July 8, 2016 / 9:42 pm

    Cordovan (who’s now filling the role of Community Manager for LOTRO again) posted a quick note that gave me some hope for continued development in LOTRO. He explained, “All we can really say is that our development plans remain unchanged; the goals are there, even if the path to get there has shifted.”

    https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?&postid=7630389#post7630389

  7. DDOCentral July 9, 2016 / 2:03 am

    The Game of Throne mobile game (‘Game of Thrones: Conquest’) should be a big hit for Turbine when it is released. The Game of Thrones IP is huge and the game will be the most expensive mobile game ever produced.

  8. romeomoon July 9, 2016 / 9:21 am

    Reminds me of Funcom going into mobile gaming a while back.

  9. ~effs~ July 11, 2016 / 12:35 pm

    I haven’t played this game in years and usually I wouldn’t care so much, but it’s LoTR and it’s a little saddening. Maybe we’ll see some sort of LoTR game for mobile (and not another clash of clans, city builder game ^^).

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