Mythic employees were surprised by their boss' departure, sources told me today.
"People are shocked and in disbelief about Mark leaving," said the former staffer. "But they're also excited to be working with BioWare. I can't even fathom Mark leaving a company he loved so much, it was his life. Personally, I can't see that this is voluntary in any shape or form."
In the official announcement on the Warhammer Online website, it stated that Ray Muzyka, co-founder and general manager of BioWare will become the group general manager of EA's newly formed RPG/MMO studio group that includes both Mythic and BioWare.
Rob Denton, who co-founded Mythic with Jacobs in 1995, will move from his COO position to become Mythic's general manager reporting to Muzyka.
BioWare's other co-founder Greg Zeschuk will become the new RPG/MMO studio group's creative officer. However, it's unclear what this move means for Mythic's current creative director Paul Barnett, who was recently at E3 hyping up all of EA's games.
"Will he move up in the EA structure? That does raise some questions," my source said.
"Is anyone freaking out? Actually, no," they said. "I guess it was also because [Jacobs] has been on sabbatical for over a month. No one had seen him in a long time, so people already had it in their minds that he was probably going away."
The former employee wanted to clarify that they didn't have an ax to grind; they had left Mythic on amicable terms. And though they said that most employees had very little interaction with Jacobs, they thought that most people liked the guy.
"When they had to lay off all those people, Mark was visibly upset that he even had to let one person go," said my source. "I can't imagine anyone saying anything bad about Mark. He mostly stayed up on the eighth floor and did his own thing in his office, but he had a vision for the way [Warhammer Online] could be and he definitely follows his vision."
I asked if Jacobs' departure might have anything to do with Warhammer Online's subscriber numbers. EA announced that the game had 300,000 subscribers earlier this year. While the number is still impressive for a new MMO, the number was below EA's expectations and down from 500,000 at launch.
"The numbers aren't that bad, and last I heard the numbers were back on the rise," they revealed. "If you get half a million subscriptions out of it, you're making your money back. I know the game was making money."
In the end, my source thought this move would be the best for people working at both companies. "Bioware has a track record of really good launched titles, and Mythic has track record of MMO experience," they explained. "And I know there's a lot of people at Mythic that would really look forward to working on [BioWare's upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic]. People at Mythic have been working on MMOs for years and could add muscle to it, they could add really cool things to [BioWare's] MMO."
My source added, "I don't know how [Jacobs' leaving] affects the vision of the other projects they're working on, but Mythic will continue to go on without their fearless leader is probably an accurate assessment."