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And then there were 8! On Chris Sims and Jennifer Clarke Wilkes' Layoffs...

I've seen quite a few people speculating that Chris Sims and Jennifer Clarke-Wilkes may not have been made redundant, but possibly fired for various reasons, or because contracts ended (given that Jennifer has been at WoTC for about 15 years, that latter guess was always going to be very unlikely!). For that reason, I feel it's a good idea to set things straight and find out exactly what happened; I'm sure neither want rumours like that to start! The short version: yep, they were lay-offs.

Chris Sims kindly shared with me that "Jennifer Clarke Wilkes and I were laid off on Wednesday the 28th. Our positions were eliminated, reducing the D&D team to eight people working directly on the tabletop game."

Hopefully that will put some speculation to rest! Here's the original article, for context.

Who makes up the 8 still working on the RPG? Mike Mearls, Rodney Thompson, Jeremy Crawford, Greg Bilsland, Chris Perkins, Peter Lee, Matt Sernett, Adam Lee.

The 8 does not include art or brand staff, including community manager Trevor Kidd, brand/marketing managers, Organized Play program managers and the like, which brings the number up to about 13.

As an interesting point of comparison, Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens kindly shared that "We don't have any part time employees. The 25 full-time were folks that worked directly on Pathfinder products in design, development, editing and art. Currently, we are pushing 60 employees in the company and growing. In the next few months, we will be hiring more editors and developers to support Pathfinder. 2014 was our best year ever in both sales and profits. Still going up!"
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Gecko85

Explorer
Thanks for the update. I thought it was clear from Chris' Twitter posts that it was a layoff, but at least now we know it was an elimination of positions.
 



pming

Adventurer
Eight?! Crikey...I've had *gaming groups* larger than that! Currently, if everyone could make every session, I'd have 6, plus me, so 7 at the table. I could add another 3 if I wanted too...but 6 is my absolute limit nowadays.

Oh well...I prefer quality over quantity anyway. :) Hopefully the remaining 8 will not disappoint.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Keep in mind 8 really isn't that small of a number for a full time job working the number of products WoTC said they were working on. All of the art is through freelances, right? Along with probably a lot of other things (writing, printing, manufacturing, etc). In this type of industry, you can hire out pretty every role as needed, and only need a core team to manage things. It also keeps costs way down.
 

Paraxis

Explorer
The fact it is down to eight made me think of those Twitch streams we are seeing most of the crew. I went back and watched the Jan 7th broadcast, Chris Sims played a halfling monk named "Cricket". The guy seemed like a good guy, sorry about his lay off.

http://www.twitch.tv/wotc_dnd/v/3668969

The broadcast on the 21st, it was down to 3 players with Chris noticeably gone by then.

Good luck to both Chris and Jennifer in all future endeavours.
 

Agglomérante

First Post
What on earth is going on?!?

It doesn't making sense. After the blockbuster release of the PHB you'd think Wizards would be growing, not shrinking. Is Hasbro not investing Wizards' sales profits back into Wizards? It feels like D&D is being ripped off. Do we need to pull a Michael Moore and get shares in Hasbro and make some noise at the annual shareholders' meeting?
 
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augustgrace

First Post
They were crawling to the finish line with the core books, reported success far beyond what was anticipated, and now their cutting more people from an already skeleton crew?! 4e definitely wasn't my favorite edition, but I'm getting nostalgic for the 4e release, when wotc's overlords actually supported their product. I really don't understand their strategy, and honestly it sounds like folks at Paizo have nothing to fear. Even 13th Age, a product that at its conception was going to be a one off published by a small company, has a more aggressive publishing plan. Hell, Monte has taken a handful of good folks and is slowly creating an empire that will likely quickly outpace 5e.
 

R

RevTurkey

Guest
I like D&D 5th Edition, it is a good game and is all you need for years of play...but I do get the feeling that WotC's plan is to now move the focus towards using the brand heavily in other areas rather than roleplaying. Maybe they actually have some super cool stuff on the horizon that they haven't shared but Tyranny of Dragons left me cold, I thought it was poor and the Elemental Evil thing doesn't sit right with me either...I am not interested in the product bible..cross market blah blah blah commercial squeezerama road that they seem to be following. It seems like a cheap way to leverage the Dungeons and Dragons name and history. That said...they have given us a very nice game. I hope they give it some oxygen rathr than just use it's title to sell other stuff.
 

bmfrosty

Explorer
What on earth is going on?!?

It doesn't making sense. After the blockbuster release of the PHB you'd think Wizards would be growing, not shrinking. Is Hasbro not investing Wizards' sales profits back into Wizards? It feels like D&D is being ripped off.

This makes perfect sense. That team is controlling direction, quality control, and final editing. Everything else is done freelance. Whether by contract work or freelance submission. Other than the core books, are they developing anything in-house?
 


Slayyne

First Post
8 vs. 60? Wow, what does that say about the future for WOTC? Perhaps the best thing they could do would be to release the OGL pronto so other folks can start supporting it.
 


Slayyne

First Post
I hope they can pull it together. I know I absolutely love 5e. I didn't have near this much fun playing Pathfinder, although I'm not saying it is a bad game. Fifth edition flows well; therefore, I really hope they see a huge amount of success without and are able to put more resources toward it.
 

guachi

Explorer
I think those of us who love D&D will have to rely on old, converted material to keep us going. It looks like WotC is doing just enough to keep D&D off of life support but not much more.

Really glad that dndclassics.com has about 1/2 of the product out there. Between that and ebay I have more than enough stuff to last me. New stuff specifically for 5e would be nice, though. On the up side, knowing WotC won't be coming out with anything much means that it's fairly safe to buy 3rd party material!
 

Derren

Hero
They were crawling to the finish line with the core books, reported success far beyond what was anticipated, and now their cutting more people from an already skeleton crew?!

Keep in mind that "success far beyond what was anticipated" can at this point also mean "The token tabletop we have to support our novel line has even managed to make a profit".
 

GregoryOatmeal

First Post
Man that's just awful. Awful for the game getting less content and of course awful for the designers losing their jobs and possibly having to relocate.

I really want more 5E stuff. Hopefully we'll see those two on Kickstarter producing some sort of off-brand Advanced Players Guide or additional monster manual or modules...or something. Demand is obviously very high for more products and WOTC isn't delivering much.
 

Farland

Explorer
I feel terrible for the folks laid off but I have to tell you the fact that they aren't planning to crap out splat books makes me happy. We need more adventures and settings. We don't need more classes, spells, items, etc. It is that kind of power creep that always ruins the edition.
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
Keep in mind that "success far beyond what was anticipated" can at this point also mean "The token tabletop we have to support our novel line has even managed to make a profit".

What novel line would that be? At present, there are only three authors contracted out for future novels (all FR), and the novel line has dramatically shrunk in the past few years (with several cancelled, and others going e-book only).

Additionally, per Elaine Cunningham, WotC no longer has any in-house fiction editors.
 
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