The tough economic situation doesn't help, either.
When successful, an MMO can be a huge financial boon for a developer and publisher. It's not hard to imagine executives in fancy suits looking at World of Warcraft's numbers (even as it declines) and drooling in anticipation. But it's hard, if not impossible to get there - as seen by recent layoffs at Star Wars: The Old Republic maker BioWare Austin.
Speaking with PC Gamer about the cuts, TOR Associate Lead Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi said that it wasn't easy to make and operate an MMO these days. "The MMO is the toughest part of the game industry without a doubt and we live in tough economic times in general," he said, adding that it was difficult to watch people leave who you had worked with for a long time and known personally. "I doubt it'd be easy in any industry for anyone, but it happens."
Despite cuts, said Lusinchi, the TOR development team was still "one of the biggest in the industry." He assured the game's players that BioWare had plans for development going forward to respond to their concerns with "new content [and] new systems."
"We have subscription numbers that many of our competitors will envy," said Lusinchi. "[Maybe] not all the competitors, but we're doing good."
TOR will probably still remain relatively successful despite the layoffs; it's hard to see it sinking underneath the waves with the time and money that has gone into it. But the recent implosion of Project Copernicus developer 38 studios is a none-too-subtle example of how risky it can be to try and stick your hand in the lucrative-looking MMO pot.
Source: PC Gamer