Age of Conan dev cutting staff by 20%, Secret World delayed

Following Canadian expansion announcement, Funcom "better aligns" workforce on financial concerns; modern-day magic-themed MMOG pushed "some months."

The month began with Norwegian Funcom announcing an expansion of its operations into Montreal, Canada. The new studio, according to Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas, would allow the massively multiplayer online role-playing game company behind such titles as 2008's Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures to take advantage of the generous tax breaks Canada affords to game-development studios. However, Funcom's expansion hasn't come without a contraction.

A concrete golem's natural weakness? Flaming katanas.

Funcom said today that it would be cutting headcount through layoffs and forced leave at its Norwegian development house by approximately 20 percent. According to a statement issued by the developer, the move comes as part of an effort "to better align the company's operations to the current marketplace." Funcom currently employs some 320 employees globally, maintaining offices in the US, China, and Switzerland.

Along with cuts to its workforce, Funcom said that it has pushed back the launch of its newest MMOG, The Secret World, by "some months." Announced for the Xbox 360 and PC in 2007, The Secret World posits an alternate universe in which a modern-day world has been torn asunder by the reemergence of magic and other occult activity. No release window had previously been attached to The Secret World.

Funcom has seen marginal success with its most recently launched MMOG, Age of Conan. Debuting to a warm critical reception and strong initial sales in 2008, the game soon had to contend with the launch of Mythic Entertainment's Warhammer Online and Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King later that year. In August, Funcom announced that Rise of the Godslayer will be Age of Conan's first expansion pack, though no release window was announced.

For its full fiscal year ended December 31, 2008, Funcom reported losses of $33.8 million on revenues of $39.9 million.

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