Like clockwork, Wizards of the Coast has laid off a bunch of people just in time for the holidays. It is NO FUN to be in fear for your job and career every single year, but that's the way it was over there when I worked for the company, and that's apparently the way it is now.
I've seen a list of some of the folks who lost their jobs today floating around the internet, and it's possible to draw some conclusions from it.
First, blood continues to be spilled over the sub-fantastic DDI and "Gleemax" debacle. It's difficult to say at this point if it's a matter of incompetence being shown the door or a general house cleaning, but either way all is definitely not well on the digital front over in Renton.
I'm extremely surprised to see Jonathan Tweet and Andrew Finch on the layoff list (assuming the list I've seen is accurate). Both are among the sharpest minds not just at Wizards of the Coast, but in the gaming business in general. It's difficult not to see their loss as a significant blow to WotC's ability to innovate. More to the point, the idea of either of these guys getting laid off 4 years ago or even 2 years ago would have been unthinkable. They were as close to untouchable as you could get. Clearly, something's changed over there.
On the D&D front, I'm very sad to see the names Dave Noonan and Julia Martin on the list of layoffs. Dave is one of the better writers working on D&D. He started shortly after I did back in 1999 or so, and I always appreciated his point of view and (especially) his writing. Dave's contributions to Dungeon and Dragon when I was involved with the magazines remain some of my favorites. Julia is one of the strongest editors working on the game, and her nurturing of the Forgotten Realms in particular will get her a place in Toril's Heaven forever. I'm not sure what she was working on these days, but it's too bad to see her go like this.
A lot of times these annual (or even more than annual) lists get posted to EN World and I think "Yeah, I can see that" or "I have never even heard of this guy," but this time I recognize almost every name on the list. Some of those names bewilder me, and I wonder if we might hear about more folks who lost their jobs today in the next few days.
Best wishes to the folks who got culled today. It's a terrible time to lose your job, and I wish these folks the best of luck.