Too often, I wonder if the gaming industry shouldn’t just switch over to producing new versions of musical chairs and duck-duck-goose full-time. It does, after all, seem to be what we’re best at. Projects wrap, publishers “restructure,” and the unemployment line has to change the hinges on its revolving door. Again. This year, especially, has been viciously unkind on the layoff and closures front, and after a brief reprieve, it looks like the infernal old machine is whirring back to life. EA’s now confirmed a major round of layoffs of its own, though it won’t divulge exact numbers or details as to who’s been affected. Sources, however, are putting the grand total in the hundreds.
First up, here’s EA’s official statement on the matter:
“In recent weeks, EA has aligned all elements of its organizational structure behind priorities in new technologies and mobile. This has led to some difficult decisions to reduce the workforce in some locations. We are extremely grateful for the contributions made by each of our employees – those that are leaving EA will be missed by their colleagues and friends.”
“These are hard but essential changes as we focus on delivering great games and showing players around the world why to spend their time with us.”
Initial reports claimed the chopping block saw more than 1,000 fresh faces – or more than 10 percent of EA’s previously 9,000-strong workforce – but others (for instance, this one on Polygon) are alleging the number’s actually in the hundreds. Regardless – and this probably doesn’t need stating – that’s a lot of people.
Among others, PopCap Vancouver and Quicklime have been completely closed down according to ex-employees. And of course, EA Partners’ closure is rumored to be another major driving force behind this unfortunate turn of events. Meanwhile, February saw big, disarmingly cheery layoffs at EA Montreal and Los Angeles, and of course, CEO John Riccitiello (whose name I only just figured out how to spell right before it ceased to matter) stepped down last month.
Clearly, change is afoot. What kind of change? Well, the company recently claimed it could “do better” and completely failed to understand what it was doing wrong all in the same breath, so I’m not going to feign optimism. As for what’s next, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. For now, though, best of luck to all affected. Layoffs are completely miserable, but all you can really do is keep on moving.