Merry Christmas! WotC’s Annual Layoffs, RPG Superstar 2010

On Friday, the news broke that Wizards of the Coast has once more conducted their annual December layoffs.  This time, the axe fell on Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Chris Sims, and Stephen Radney-McFarland. Rob Heinsoo is especially notable, as he was one of the chief designers of 4E, and apparently a mastermind behind the game’s mechanical execution.

Now, this is usually where the blogosphere and the forum threads engage in endless speculation as to what this means. Does it mean 4E is failing? Does it mean WotC is in financial trouble?

Well, they’ve been doing this every damn year since around when Peter Adkison left the company. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s inevitable, every year, as night follows day, that WotC will fire a number of people, at least some of whom are talented. EN World’s front page lists formerly laid-off employees: Jeff Grubb, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Julia Martin, Jim Butler, Chris Pramas, David Noonan, Stan!, Owen Stephens, Linae Foster – and that’s not a complete listing, either, even forgetting the guys from other departments who don’t get their names on the covers of books.

So, it doesn’t mean dick. It’s just what WotC does. I don’t know why, maybe to avoid paying Christmas bonuses or something. Whatever the motivation, though, the timing has always struck me as rather mean-spirited.

Well, good luck to Rob, Logan, Chris and Stephen. Hope you find new jobs soon.

In much happier news, Paizo Publishing has their own annual tradition, the RPG Superstar Contest, which kicked off once more on Friday. The first round of the contest is to design a wondrous item for the Pathfinder RPG, in 300 words. Deadline January 1st. 32 of these will advance to the next round, then 16, then 8, and finally the top four will submit full adventure proposals. The winner will get to write a full 32-page module for the Pathfinder Modules series.

I’ll see if I can get something done, this time around.

Currently, exams piling up. While I still probably won’t have anything resembling a posting schedule after they’re over, I may post more often.

7 thoughts on “Merry Christmas! WotC’s Annual Layoffs, RPG Superstar 2010

  1. I don’t care if this makes perfect business sense. If it is a practice done by every other business in the nation. It’s a dick move and it just lowers my opinion of WotC even further. Which is quite astounding really, I didn’t think my opinion of WotC could get any lower. Happy Holidays all.

  2. From my vantage point in Canada, I’ve noticed that lay-offs happen in the U.S. way more often than in any other post-industrialized nation.

    It’s quite peculiar. Doesn’t make much business sense to me.

    I’ve noticed that the cost of doing business in the US is actually quite reasonable compared to Canada, and from what I gather, western Europe as well. For instance, the minimum wage in Ontario Canada is $9 an hour, and $10 an hour around Toronto. It is considered embarrassing to make less than $15 an hour anywhere near Toronto. From what my US friends have told me, $15 per hour is a very good salary in the US, and requires, at a minimum, some advanced education or a specialized skill level. European companies situate in Canada because they perceive Canada to be quite affordable. Why then, don’t the businesses situate in the US if the average starting salary in Canada is considered a fairly substantive salary in the US?

    And why do Americans keep getting laid off if they have a fairly reasonable labour cost? I think it could be two factors: 1) your government doesn’t care about you, and 2) unproductive workers.

    If a company like Wizards were located in Vancouver instead of Seattle, and they decided to cut staff, the various levels of government here would step in and say “Well, why do you need to do that?” If the business had a valid reason, then they might get some financial help to keep those jobs in the local economy. If, on the other hand, it was just callous profiteering, the government would hold the company accountable for their actions.

    The other factor, unproductive workers… well, I don’t know. Sometimes I get the impression that the Americans spend more time talking about their kids at work than actually working. Maybe that’s a stereotype. I have no idea. If there is a shred of truth to it, then you really need to get your collective acts together.

    One wonders if the American individualism and divisiveness isn’t undermining your country’s economic relevance. You should perhaps start seeing the value of collective power and stop being so damned quick to point fingers.

  3. You are correct that the US government doesn’t care about American workers. American workers aren’t able to bribe the US government the way that US corporations can.

    But lazy workers? You must be trolling. US employees work harder than just about anyone other than the Japanese. And if the minimum wage had kept pace with the inflation rate it would be $11/hour now.

    The main thing holding us back is the insane levels of executive compensation. US CEOs for example earn 431 times what the minimum paid employee makes. In Europe? CEOs make 36 times what the lowest paid employee makes. And US corporations pay next to no taxes thanks to well placed bribes to Congress.

    What we need is a whole lot more socialism. But the Corporate Oligarchs have convinced American rubes that ‘socialism’ is a dirty word. All the while violating those same American rubes as fast as possible AND making them pay for the ‘privilege’…

    Go USA!

  4. I assure you sir that I am not ‘trolling’. But I find your assertion that “US employees work harder than just about anyone other than the Japanese” a bit hard to swallow.

    I’ve been to India and China. I assure you, they work much harder.

    From an outsider’s perspective, there does seem to be a very poor work ethic in the US. That perception, regardless of the reality, is well established throughout the world.

    That perception is rooted, I think, in the experiences people have while visiting the US.

    Take, for instance, your airports. Being the richest country in the world, you would expect that your airports would be well-managed. Yet, this is rarely the case. The point-of-service workers are often rude and culturally inconsiderate. The structures are wornout and in disrepair. For the person visiting the US, say, a wealthy asian businessman looking to invest, it does not bode well.

    These differences in quality service are obvious to anyone who travels widely. I once received a verbal berating, and shoeing away from an employee of a Starbucks because I was taking too long to decide. This sort of thing isn’t exclusive to the US, but it is ‘perceived’ as happening far more often. Whether that is the case or not.

  5. I was, and am now, comparing industrialized nations. Compared to Europeans, Americans work at insanely busy levels, have fewer benefits and about a third as much time off. We are literally watched like hawks in the blue collar sector. I know, I am a blue collar factory worker. I’ve seen people fired because they didn’t turn off an inspection light at the end of a shift. The pressure is often absurd and quite frankly deadly.

  6. You are either generating revenue or you’re not. If you fire someone it is because their labor is not going to produce profits for you. Only a stupid person would layoff people making you money. Therefore they were either not making WOTC money or WOTC was stupid. Could be either. Companies that layoff or fire people that make them money will not exist long.

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