For now. The following is an internal memo from Origin president Jack Heistand. It has been forwarded to us by several reliable sources who would prefer to remain anonymous. In short: Wing Commander is dead, in favor of an entirely Ultima based company. To note: this site will remain up, and the staff has full confidence that Wing Commander will rise again.
As I reflect on my first year at OSI I take great pride in what we have accomplished and where this organization is headed. We learn form the past and we leverage our strenghts. This next year presents challenges throughout all of EAWorld. Every studio and publishing entity has been challenged to focus and reduce spending. This is a transition year in the games business. This happens every 5 years with the introduction of new hardware by the market leader. This is particularly challenging because we are wanting to invest and being the transition to online as well. So what does this for OSI?
As we ponder how to get maximum benefit for our planned spending, it is clear to me, that we simply cannot fall into the trap of trying to do too much with too few resources. EA is prepared to invest 16mm behind Origin and the Ultima businesses. This investment is one of the top 2 franchise investments EA is making worldwide. With that said it is not prudent for us to deploy precious resources behind the web based games and Privateer. These projects are well conceived with talented people behind them. However we do not have the resources to meet what the teams require to realize their vissions. Moreover, with respect to Privateer we find ourselves with 2 products in EAWorld in development positioned right at each other.
As an organization a greater focus is required. That focus will involve tightening our belts and concentrating on our core business...the worlds of Ultima. Here are the major changes:
Richard Garriott will be leaving OSI. Richard's contribution to OSI has been great and his legacy as the creator of Ultima is a tremendous responsibility for us to inherit. There are few promoters, if any, that parallel Richard's ability in that area. As Richard and I discussed his vision of what he wanted to do -create new large properties, OSI simply could not pursue those endeavors. Wishing Richard only the best and all life has to offer as he embarks on his new challenges.
In addition our workforce will be reduced by 20. The goal has been to minimize the reduction in development personnel and reduce administrative spending in a prudent fashion. We will work as passionately and dilligently to find those individuals affected by this reduction, opportunities within EAWorld or within their specific area of expertise in Austin. Every individual will have a senior manager as a sponsor to help them identify and evaluate opportunities.
Our product priorities are as follows:
1. Grow UOLive to 200k+ subscribers. Jason Bell will be returning to direct UOLive as well as directing the plan for UO2 Live. Jason has been a pillar of strength and his management skills are extraordinary.
2.Ensure that UO2 is a triple A title by using the proper time, resource and management focus on this key endeavor. Jeff Anderson will be devoting 100% of his time to ensuring that this strategic sku is a mjor success. As part of that endeavor the product licensing that Jeff iniated around UO2's marketplace expansion will be managed by Jeff. I am confident that leveraging Jeff's considerable talent behind UO2 will mean even greater success for this awesome product. Debbysue Wolfcale will continue to focus on retention marketing and managing the web group. Debbysue, David Swofford and Galen Svanes who are taking marketing to a new level at OSI will continue to report to me.
3.Rick Hall will become the producer of an exciting new sku, which will be the most powerful new UO release to date. Rick is signed up to deliver this product this fiscal year. Rick has quickly demonstrated his ability to manage and direct against tasks at hand. We will talk more about this product in our next company meeting.
4. UNext (UO3) will be kicked off with a small team led by Rich Vogel, Raph Koster, Chris Mayer, Bill Randolph and Jake Rodgers. This team is charged with redefining and expanding the Ultima franchise to appeal to a much larger market than the hardcore PSW followers today. This incredibly talented group is uniquely suited to lead this charge. Rick and Rich's teams will report into Gordon Walton, who continues to impress all of us.
I know that the last few weeks have been taxing and these are difficult changes to absorb right away. We have the talent, passion and a laser beam focus to execute the most strategic component of EA's online plan. As we move forward we will prove to the world what we already know--we are the best in the PSW business, bar none.