Doomsday for Sony Online Entertainment?

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Screenshot from SOE Seattle's The Agency.

A moment of anticipatory silence for Sony Online Entertainment, which if the whispering's accurate, stands to lose three studios, up to a third of its workforce, and at least one long-awaited game.

Gossip blog Kotaku noticed a tweet by 3D Realms' George "Duke Nukem For-never" Broussard, who wrote that SOE Seattle was "having layoffs" and that "studio closure is possible." The Washington state-based studio had been at work on a game called The Agency, described as "a fast-paced, action shooter in an online persistent world--a modern setting of bullets, bomb blasts, and betrayal."

Kotaku's source claims that Sony is in fact shuttering three full studios (of five total) located in Seattle, Tucson, and Denver. The remaining two--San Diego and Austin--are reportedly still standing, but may have seen half their workforces pink-slipped. All told, we're talking workforce decimation by as much as one-third.

So much for SOE Denver's "accomplished history of well-designed game titles that offer deep game-play and attract strong player communities." The studio currently supports Legends of Norrath (an online collectible card game), Star Wars Galaxies: Trading Card game (same), Magic The Gathering: Tactics (an online turn-bases strategy game), Star Wars The Clone Wars Adventures: Card Commander (free-to-play online games), and Free Realms: Trading Card Game (a trading card game based on the online free-to-play game Free Realms).

It looks like SOE Tuscon was only supporting a single game called PoxNora, a "collectible, turn-based, tactical, online fantasy game."

SOE San Diego currently supports EverQuest and EverQuest II (both online roleplaying games, still running), Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (another online roleplaying game), PlanetSide (an online first-person shooter), and Free Realms (a free-to-play online roleplaying game).

And SOE Austin, well, I can't imagine they'd mess much with the studio responsible for both Star Wars Galaxies and "an upcoming highly anticipated MMO title," would they?

Consider none of this sourced (well, yet) and potentially wide of mark. Kotaku's track record (rushing out rumors pitched by tipsters for dibs) tends to be mixed.

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