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CFO Loses Job because of Age of Conan

CFO Loses Job because of Age of Conan

age of conan.jpg
Germany — 

Funcom has now reported their financial results of the fourth quarter. It reveals a loss of $23.3 million, which is mostly caused by the bad performance of Age of Conan.

The results now led to the announcement that Funcom´s Chief Financial Officer, Olav Sandnes, lost his job. His comment on the matter was as follows:

Funcom is a company with a substantial potential based on a unique combination of skill sets in a fast growing global market. I wish Trond Aas and the rest of the organisation all the best in realising the full potential of the company.

Funcom also has a reported full-year loss of $33.8 million. Age of Conan presently has an estimated amount of less than 100.000 subscribers.

After a great launch with more than 400.000 subscribers, which soon spread to a comfortable amount of 800.000, Age of Conan went a disastrous way. Continuous complaints of players and server mergings made the title unprosperous.

Funcom´s comments were:

Age of Conan was the third best-selling PC game in 2008 in the US market, after World of Warcraft and Spore... [it was hampered by] shorter average subscription periods than anticipated.

The company's current sales and marketing initiatives focus on launches in new territories, as well as revitalising Age of Conan in existing core markets.

The company predicts that the first quarter of 2009 will see revenues between $6 million and 8 million, stemming from Age of Conan subscriptions.

16 EXP -
February 24, 2009 - 07:17 #

Sacking the CFO is certainly a funny way to punish a senior manager for the design and content flaws of a MMO. Without going into too much speculation, I believe more finetuning and better design philosophy (MMO endgame) could have made AoC outstanding. So many errors were made when appealing for a mass market game that many companies should use this as a textbook study:

- Catered to PC enthusiasts with a better-than-average PC with enough horsepower to run the great GFX (my old Athlon 3500 still is powerful enough to enable me playing Lord of the Rings online)
- Target audience in violence-sensitive Western Europe had to be at least mature (16+) or adult (18+) to purchase the game
- Bad, really bad itemization (low and behold, MMOs DO live from items, story, gameplay)
- Myriads of major and minor design and bug issues (e.g. female characters dealt less damage due to their slower combat animation, slow horses / mammoths which were overtaken by running characters in the beginning)
- Virtually no real endgame for players except PvP with little reward (something WAR suffers from, too)

It may be that some of the deadlines or design decisions might have been influenced by push from the CFO but all of these? I truly admire Blizzard for their philosophy: Publish it, when it's done. Quality and perfection over innovation. This might not drive the genre forward but a bug-ridden game that hardly no one plays also does not drive the genre forward.

4474 EXP -
February 24, 2009 - 10:08 #

That´s absolutely true. The problem is that not all developers can work like Blizzard, maybe because the studio does not have "the benefit of the doubt" or the publisher needs money. I mean, if you can´t be certain that your product will be a success, you cannot put more money into it all the time. You need to release it at some point...
I´m not saying that´s a good thing, it´s just the way it works

5433 EXP -
February 25, 2009 - 18:02 #

Very good analysis, Drugh!