Sony's MMO Studio Confirms Massive Layoffs, Closes The Book On The Agency

Yesterday's rumors have proven true, as Sony Online Entertainment confirms 205 cut positions, the closure of three studio locations, and puts the final bullet in the head of massively multiplayer online spy game The Agency.

In an official statement delivered to Kotaku this afternoon, Sony Online Entertainment outlines the strategic decision that resulted in the unemployment of more than two hundred people and the shuttering of studios in Denver, Seattle, and Tucson.

The statement also reveals that The Agency, the eagerly anticipated spy-vs.-spy online multiplayer game that's been in development for several years, is no longer a going concern.

The official statement begins as follows:

"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."

The decision to shut down production of The Agency comes as a surprise. Two days ago, during an interview about the PlayStation 3 release of Free Realms, I asked SOE president John Smedley about the status of The Agency, and was told "Yes, it's still going up in Seattle. We'll have some announcements soon on that."

I suppose that announcement has come.

The remainder of the statement explains that the developmental duties of the Denver and Tuscon studios would be shifted to the company's San Diego headquarters, and that the operation of any current online games would not be affected.

Our well-wishes go out to the employees and families affected by this unfortunate "strategic decision."