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WildStar developer Carbine Studios is undergoing a leadership change. President Jeremy Gaffney announced today that he's stepping down from his post for professional and personal reasons.
"'Focusing on family' is most often, in my opinion, a horseshit excuse you hear from executive types (usually departing with a forcible shove)," Gaffney said in his resignation letter on the WildStar forums. "In my case, it is part of my reason for stepping down - through 2013, my wife and I lost six members of our families to various reasons – mostly cancer. I myself was diagnosed at the end of last year with a fatal-if-untreated form of skin cancer."
Gaffney said he let the cancer go undiagnosed for 9 months because he was focused on finishing WildStar. The surgery to remove it was successful. He warns gamers to get unusual markings or moles checked out as soon as possible, though.
He also feels that stepping away from WildStar's development will be better for the MMO moving forward, too.
"When you lead a team this size in a company this size, there are a variety of strong opinions on every major decision. It’s been a pleasure helping steer us through to launch, but I think having one less strong opinion in the mix can be a good thing too."
Gaffney will still act as a consultant for Carbine. He may work "elsewhere in the industry" in time as well.
"I think it’s important that the folks here coordinate together around a single vision to move forward, and as part of that I’m looking forward to working with NCSOFT and Carbine in a very supportive role moving forward. I’ll likely not be as active in the forums and community as I have been in the past (some of y’all have noticed this already as I’ve worked here on my transition over the last months). But I’m far too passionate about you and WildStar to just get up and go entirely; while my role has changed, my voice hasn’t."
WildStar launched in early June following nine years of development. The sci-fi MMORPG lets players explore the exotic alien world of Nexus. They can undertake quests, fight other players and conquer dungeons. I didn't expect much of an MMO based on a new IP and created by a brand-new studio but I was pleasantly surprised by WildStar.
Still, the game's at a crossroads. It's not enough to release a good MMORPG. Games in that genre live or die depending on the strength of their post-launch support. If fixes and new content come too slowly, players will quickly jump ship. A shrinking player population would be especially dire for WildStar because it's a subscription-based game.
It sounds like Gaffney had a different vision for the game's future direction than other team leaders. Gauging individual team members' contributions to such as massive project is tough from an outside vantage point. All we see is the final product forged from the hard work and ideas of hundreds of people. It's tough to say, then, whether Gaffney's departure will help or hinder WildStar in the long term.