Requiem for The Agency

It has been a week since the news broke.

It seems that there are no other surprises, retractions, or last minute reprieves coming.

The time has come for The Agency.

A really, really secret agency
I’ve been riding The Agency for a while now.

I have bemoaned the hype and silence cycle that seemed to part of its life.

I have predicted it not shipping for the last few years.

I played, and mocked, the Facebook tie-in game, The Agency: Covert Ops.

It was listed on my MMO Outlook for 2011 list, which I used to take another shot at its long gestation.

Doing something about it was one of my demands for 2011.

But by now most of us have read this official statement from SOE which includes the cancellation of The Agency.

As part of a strategic decision to reduce costs and streamline its global workforce, SOE announced today that it will eliminate 205 positions and close its Denver, Seattle and Tucson studios.  As part of this restructuring, SOE is discontinuing production of The Agency so it can focus development resources on delivering two new MMOs based on its renowned PlanetSide and EverQuest properties, while also maintaining its current portfolio of online games.  All possible steps are being taken to ensure team members affected by the transition are treated with appropriate concern.

This strategic decision will have no impact on SOE’s current portfolio of live games; additionally SOE will transition development efforts for the Denver and Tucson studios’ suite of products to its San Diego headquarters.  This strategic alignment of development resources better positions SOE to remain a global leader in online gaming and deliver on its promise of creating entertaining games for players of all ages, and servicing the 20 million players that visited SOE servers in just the past year.

And so it is done, and with all I have said about it before, I felt I ought to note the closing of this chapter in MMO history.

A lot of people were excited about The Agency.  People came back from SOE Fan Faire and repeatedly communicated that excitement, which spread through the MMO community.  The fact that it seemed close to shipping so far back and that we would get news about it one day and then hear nothing for months created discontent in the fan base.

They put up some sexy pictures now and again.

Nobody who plays the game will ever be this hot…

They talked the talk and had some interesting game play videos.

But now the fate of The Agency has been sealed and the studio working on it has been closed down.

Sorry – No Positions Available at This Time

This is a disappointment to the community, and no doubt heart breaking to many who worked on the project.

But now The Agency joins the list of unshipped MMOs that have been canceled along with Ultima Online 2, Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising (the first one), Heroes Journey, and many more that never made it to the announcement/press release stage.

Now we can only wonder and what might have been.

5 thoughts on “Requiem for The Agency

  1. angry gamer

    It’s times like this that I realize how little the world outside of software development understands software.

    I feel sad about people losing jobs in this economy… But, the odds of getting any software project to code complete with quality workmanship is like 50 to 1.

    Yes it’s that stacked against you.

    This is one of the reasons I have repeatedly bashed SWTOR. It’s not that they are late per se. It’s the variance in message they keep sending. Bioware is a linear RPG game house… they have little experience with MMOs. So risks are high no matter what they do tactically. The only truly successful (as in make splash and money) are Rift, Wow and Eve. Rift and Wow both had big influences by EQ/UO veterans. So… Can Bioware come up with the ball? NOTE: all 3 of these examples have FANTASTIC hosting server side architectures.

    Vaporware is not finished product
    Demos at E3 etc are not finished product
    Demos at PAX that STILL SHOW performance gliches! ARE NOT FINISHED PRODUCTS!!!

    Bioware VPs talking about monetizing on shipping day DO NOT understand online game economics.

    1) Either they are under-investing on hosting
    2) They really believe that no one will subscribe for very long and box sales will make the nut alone.

    Whichever way Bioware may not “get it” in time.

    If I were a betting man I bet big money that SWTOR ships as a stand alone game (KOTOR III) when this is all said and done.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Angry Gamer – Was there something in what I wrote that triggered this BioWare tirade?

    Oh, and for future reference, I’ve been in software for more than 20 years now and know the facts of life. I’ve worked on a lot of stuff that never saw the light of day for a variety or reasons. You can hold off the condescension next time.


  3. 32ndlaw

    Nice summary. I too followed it and looks like I had the same reactions. Still, I was excited for a game that was a little different. Ah well, no money for that these days I guess. :(


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