Turbine, the veteran Boston-based online game developer, has laid off staff for the third year in a row. The Boston-based studio created the well-regarded online role-playing games Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online, but it has suffered since the launch of ill-fated DC Comics MOBA Infinite Crisis, and is now apparently turning its attention to mobile games - although LOTRO and DDO will be kept online.
After word of layoffs started to spread yesterday, Turbine's owner Warner Bros. confirmed the redundancies to Kotaku and other sites in this statement:
"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 & 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."
The statement doesn't mention what might happen to Turbine's other online RPG, Asheron's Call, which it launched back in 1999 and has been running ever since, after buying it back from original publisher Microsoft.
Like many other studios in the late 2000s, Turbine discovered that sticking a big licence on a massively multiplayer game, however well-made, was no answer to the juggernaut of Blizzard's World of Warcraft. But the studio managed to revive the fortunes of both its Dungeons & Dragons and Lord of the Rings games with well-judged free-to-play relaunches which, unusually, were welcomed by their communities.
That didn't stop Turbine from making the same mistake a few years later when, after the studio had been purchased by Warner Bros., it tried to take on another juggernaut, League of Legends, with a MOBA based on Warner's precious DC Comics characters. Infinite Crisis went into beta in 2014, officially launched in March 2015, and was shut down by Warner Bros. just five months later.
According to its website, Turbine is currently working on two mobile games based on Warner Bros. properties: Batman: Arkham Underworld, and the in-development Game of Thrones: Conquest.