Although not officially closed, with most of the staff being laid
off at Cyan Worlds it would appear that the developer's days are
numbered; only a few "skeleton crew" members remain.
According to publisher Ubisoft, however, only the production
unit is being closed, and Cyan will still live on as a company. For
now, its future is unclear, though.
Myst developer Cyan Worlds laid off the majority of its staff late
last week and appears to be facing closure in the near future.
The developer has yet to issue an official statement, but several
employee blogs reported the news over the weekend, and
Ubisoft has issued the following statement:
"For the past 4 years Ubisoft has been proud to work with Cyan
Worlds on the Myst brand, and we are saddened by the decision
to close the doors of their games production unit. While this
event is a sad day for Myst fans and gamers everywhere, it does
not in any way affect the upcoming launch of Myst V: End of
Ages which is already in manufacturing at this time. Ubisoft is
continuing full steam ahead with the launch of Myst V: End of
Ages, the Grand Finale of the Greatest Adventure Game of all
"While the production unit has been disbanded, Cyan will
continue as a company, pursuing new endeavors for the future.
In the next few weeks, Cyan is expecting to provide more
information about their plans. Other than this, Ubisoft has no
additional information about Cyan or their future plans."
Only Two Remain
Ubisoft's statement seems to be relatively optimistic, given the
sheer size of the layoffs. Cyan founder Rand Miller and President
Tony Fryman are reported to be the only employees left, acting
as a "skeleton crew." The company previously employed 40
"artists, programmers, designers, and support personnel,"
according to its website. It is believed that following the
completion of its contract with Ubisoft, Cyan was unable to
secure another publishing deal.
"Over the last few weeks leading to this point many of us had
the hope that something would come up, but it didn't happen,"
Cyan employee Ryan Warzecha stated on his blog.
"I've heard horror stories of how things like this go down at
other companies, but they're being very generous here. It's
obvious it breaks Rand's heart to let everyone go,"Myst V
Production Director Bill Slease wrote on his.
The popularity of the Myst franchise has waned in recent years,
with a particularly low point coming when publisher Ubisoft
decided to scrap Uru: Ages Beyond Myst's ambitious online
component, citing "a lack of potential subscribers" in 2004. The
game was essentially a critical and commercial failure.
1994's Myst was the best-selling PC game of all time until The
Sims finally dethroned it in 2000. 12 million copies have been
sold alongside its sequel, Riven. The original gained special
acclaim for its ability to capture the attention of those who had
never previously taken an interest in the medium, thanks to its
slow pace and focus on storytelling. Myst remains the only video
game played by a large number of middle-aged Americans.
Cyan was founded in 1987 and released such PC titles as Cosmic
Osmo and Spelunx, which both featured mechanics that
foreshadowed the impact the company would later have on the
point-and-click genre with Myst. According to its official
website, Cyan's first game The Manhole was "the first
entertainment product ever on the new medium of CD-ROM."