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EA lays off 350 staff as it ‘refines the organisation’ to ‘meet the needs of players’

Electronic Arts has laid off 350 employees working across a range of teams, including marketing and publishing departments, in a bid to “refine [the] organization and meet the needs of [its] players”.

“We have a vision to be the World’s Greatest Games Company,” EA boss Andrew Wilson said in an email to staff obtained by Kotaku. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re not there right now. We have work to do with our games, our player relationships, and our business.”

“Across the company, teams are already taking action to ensure we are creating higher-quality games and live services, reaching more platforms with our content and subscriptions, improving our Frostbite tools, focusing our network and cloud gaming priorities, and closing the gap between us and our player communities.”

An EA representative confirmed the company would provide severance to those affected by redundancy, and was working to “try and find other roles inside the company” for them. A statement from the publisher-developer said it had been “a difficult day” but the company was “making deliberate moves to better deliver on our commitments, refine our organization and meet the needs of our players”.

“Today we took some important steps as a company to address our challenges and prepare for the opportunities ahead,” the statement said. “As we look across a changing world around us, it’s clear that we must change with it. We’re making deliberate moves to better deliver on our commitments, refine our organization and meet the needs of our players. As part of this, we have made changes to our marketing and publishing organization, our operations teams, and we are ramping down our current presence in Japan and Russia as we focus on different ways to serve our players in those markets. In addition to organizational changes, we are deeply focused on increasing quality in our games and services. Great games will continue to be at the core of everything we do, and we are thinking differently about how to amaze and inspire our players.

“This is a difficult day. The changes we’re making today will impact about 350 roles in our 9,000-person company. These are important but very hard decisions, and we do not take them lightly. We are friends and colleagues at EA, we appreciate and value everyone’s contributions, and we are doing everything we can to ensure we are looking after our people to help them through this period to find their next opportunity. This is our top priority.”

In its third quarter briefing, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson acknowledged Q3 was a “difficult quarter” for the company, admitting the publisher/developer “did not perform to [its] expectations” despite the launch of Battlefield V and Command & Conquer: Rivals during the reporting period.

“The video game industry continues to grow through a year of intense competition and transformational change,” Wilson said at the time. “Q3 was a difficult quarter for Electronic Arts and we did not perform to our expectations. We are now applying the strengths of our company to sharpen our execution and focus on delivering great new games and long-term live services for our players. We’re very excited about Apex Legends, the upcoming launch of Anthem, and a deep line-up of new experiences that we’ll bring to our global communities next fiscal year.”

These latest layoffs sadly come on the back of several other closures and cutbacks we’ve seen across studios and media in recent months. Techland recently shuttered Polish publishing and distribution division and Brighton-based That’s You! developer Wish Studios recently closed, too.

Last month, digital retailer GOG laid off “a dozen” positions, purported to be around 10 per cent of its workforce, and only a month after reportedly laying off an “undisclosed number” of staff from its American San Mateo studio, Iron Tiger Studios, South Korean online game publisher NCSoft has announced it will be making “staff reductions” at Guild Wars 2 developer, ArenaNet. Finnish studio Next Games recently announced it is laying off 26 staff after it reviewed “the cost structure of the company’s operations”, and Activision recently laid off 8 per cent of its staff – 775 people.

Other closures include AER Memories of Old developer, Forgotten Key, Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale developer, Define Human Studios, Daybreak, Starbreeze, Bandai Namco Vancouver, and Trion Worlds, best known for its MMO games. Telltale Games laid off the majority of its staff in a ‘majority studio closure’ back in September. The media too has been affected, with the shuttering of leading strategy guides publisher Prima Games and Future’s GamesMaster and games™ magazines.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond.

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