In what's becoming a sadly regular occurrence, gaming company Electronic Arts has announced a new round of layoffs. The company confirmed in a statement that it was laying off employees in an unknown number of locations, saying that the move was part of "hard but essential changes" for the company's future. Though it declined to state how many people were cut, sources have told Kotaku that the layoffs affect up to 10 percent of the workforce. EA listed around 9,000 employees in its last financial statement. Game Informer has also reported that EA is considering shutting down its Partners program, which has helped publish Crysis, Bulletstorm, and other non-EA games.
EA was voted the "worst company in America" after an extremely rocky SimCity launch, prompting COO Peter Moore to apologize and say that the company would "do better." Before the vote, CEO John Riccitiello also announced that he would be stepping down, possibly because EA had missed its financial guidance and internal goals for the quarter. But these layoffs have been going on for much longer than the current publicity problems. In 2012, BioWare suffered multiple rounds of cuts, and its San Francisco office was shut down in 2013. PopCap, which makes Plants vs. Zombies, also had its Dublin studio closed last year, with about 100 people laid off. The past few months have also seen EA's offices in San Francisco and Montreal hit with layoffs, including a round earlier this April.
With each round, EA has emphasized that it's cutting people in order to streamline its operation or move to a new generation of devices, but some of its projects also clearly haven't paid off. Earlier this month, it shut down The Sims Social and other Facebook games, bluntly saying that it had seen user activity drop off sharply. Unlike the layoffs, the Partners shutdown hasn't been confirmed by EA, but a source at Kotaku has echoed it — and given how quickly EA has been shuttering studios, it's well within the realm of possibility.
Update: Polygon's sources have given a better idea of the scope of the layoffs, saying that "hundreds" of people were affected across virtually all parts of the company. Two sources have said that the Partners program is being shut down, and employees from both PopCap Vancouver and Quicklime Games — which worked on Need for Speed — have tweeted that their studios were shut down.
Update 2: Kotaku obtained a leaked memo from EA CEO Larry Probst, which confirms a "streamlining" of the organization, but doesn't comment specifically on affected employees, studios, or the EA Partners group. However, it does suggest that studios have indeed been closed: "This process has led to some difficult decisions about the number of people and locations needed to achieve our goals." Read the whole memo below.
FROM LARRY PROBST
As we begin the new fiscal year, I want to provide you with a brief update on some important changes to our organization. As Executive Chairman, my focus is to ensure EA is delivering high quality games and services to our consumers, while helping the executive team develop a FY14 operating plan that drives growth, rationalizes headcount and controls costs.
In recent weeks, the executive team has been tasked with evaluating every area of our business to establish a clear set of priorities, and a more efficient organizational structure. This process has led to some difficult decisions about the number of people and locations needed to achieve our goals.
The workforce reductions which we communicated in the last two weeks represent the majority of our planned personnel actions. We are extremely grateful for the contributions made by each of these individuals – they will be missed by their colleagues and friends at EA.
We are also taking action to streamline our organization, including changes in two key areas:
· Core marketing functions have been consolidated under our COO, Peter Moore. The combined group will bring together our Label marketing teams, Global Acquisition Marketing and Marketing Analytics into one multi-talented team under Todd Sitrin’s leadership. The development and marketing teams will continue to work as cohesive units, driving clear and consistent messaging and consumer engagement for each of our franchises.
· Origin will move into Frank Gibeau’s Labels organization. Andrew Wilson will take on the leadership of Origin, working with CJ Prober and the team to create more value and an enhanced entertainment experience for our consumers.
Change is sometimes difficult, but essential. The adjustments we are making will put us in the best position to build great games and services, deliver them more efficiently to consumers, and demonstrate to players around the world why they should spend their time with us.
EA is a great company, with talented and hard-working teams, a strong portfolio of products and an extremely bright future.
Thank you all for your dedication and commitment to our long term success!