After Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts has also done a similar move, but at least they didn’t fire several hundreds of people.
Electronic Arts has merged IronMonkey Studios and FireMint in 2012 into FireMonkeys, which employed roughly two hundred people in Australia (games? Need for Speed: No Limits, Real Racing, The Sims FreePlay, Need For Speed Most Wanted…). We used the past tense for a good reason: several employees learned via private meetings that they have been laid off and have to leave.
While this doesn’t warrant to be news, the amount of layoffs does: about 80-100 people have to find a new job, which is roughly half of the team in the worst scenario. Game Workers Unite Australia says 40-50 people had to go. That is still 20-25% of the team! An unnamed source told Kotaku Australia that it’s possibly just a question of time before Electronic Arts closes the entire studio. It could happen, seeing the faceless press statement from EA: „The FireMonkeys studio is working on some of our most popular mobile games. We recently made a decision to shift teams to focus more on our live services, and have entered into a consultation period that may impact some roles in the studio. We’re working to match skills with opportunities as we go through this period, identifying other opportunities at EA, and providing as much help to our employees as we possibly can.” The keyword is live services – money, money, money!
After ArenaNet (Guild Wars – although they are only preparing to lay off employees at the moment) and Activision Blizzard, we can now say: February is a tough month in the gaming industry…