Since the beginning of the year, 33 people have left Origin, including 17 who have been laid off. Spokesperson David Swofford said that this is nothing unusual--just the continuing process of evaluating the company's business and personnel needs. In fact, he mentioned that Origin is bigger now than it was this time last year, with approximately 210 employees. Additionally, Origin is actively trying to fill 10 positions.
What's going on? It probably represents Origin's shift to online gaming, which is really all it has planned once Ultima Ascension and A-10 ship. Moreover, the Jane's brand is being moved from Origin's management to EA's control once A-10 is complete. The next Origin game will likely be an online Wing Commander title that would be headed up by famed flight sim guru Andy Hollis.
How strong is the Wing Commander franchise? It's hard to say. Wing Commander IV made back its $10 million development, but barely. Then Wing Commander: Prophecy didn't sell as well as Wing Commander III or IV. Still, Swofford claims that Prophecy was still "very successful" and that "Wing Commander is very much alive and well at Origin." One other interesting note: Ultima Online has now grown to 125,000 active accounts. Origin thinks it can push this figure quite a bit higher, too. Mutha!