The world of big business is constantly changing, yet it in EAs case it seems to be going through an earthquake, with all the bad news coming from it these days. Just last month Techgage’s Rob Williams reported on John Riccitiello Stepping Down and the critical launch failure of SimCity on EAs own Origin platform.
This week Game Informer was made aware by anonymous sources close to EA, that it would be closing down its Partner label program. This branch was responsible for contract based publishing for indie developers. In a statement made by EA, it said: “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.”
This isn’t the only closer that has come to our attention. Palle Hoffstein, a former Associate Producer at EA, tweeted on his personal Twitter account: “More bad news for Canada’s gaming biz as EA closes it’s Popcap and Quicklime studios. Bunch of my friends layed off.” This was later reiterated by Chris Power the former QA project lead at PopCap Vancouver, where he tweeted on his personal Twitter account: “PopCap Vancouver, makers of Hidden Object games officially closed. Outta work again.” This does not mean that all of PopCap divisions have been closed, only the division based in Vancouver.
It doesn’t end there either, news broke of massive layoffs over at EA Montreal. According to CTV News Montreal, the layoffs affected approximately 2/3 of the staff. EA Montreal is known to be one of the parent company’s more mobile-focused divisions. Consequently, the news of the staff cuts seems to fly in the face of the company’s declarations of devoting more resources to mobile gaming. Per Elias Makos, a tech expert CTV News interviewed, “Mobile gaming is where the future is, so that’s the most surprising thing… EA is putting a lot of focus in mobile and yet they’re cutting Montreal’s mobile division.“
Finally, EA (and Maxis) completes its trifecta of disaster with news that the long-awaited SimCity 2.0 Patch has apparently introduced more problems than it was supposed to have solved. According to multiple reports, the new patch has led to a lot of irregular behavior (pardon the pun) by patched players’ Sim citizens. Their cities saw a massive increase in sewage levels, pollution, and road traffic. Worse, though, are some reports of saved cities not loading and glitches with the in-game sound. Saddest of all is that information on whatever bugs the patch was supposed to have fixed have been flushed down the toilet (again, pardon the pun) with all the vociferous complaints about the patch.
This is a very turbulent time for EA and its employees, no matter how far up the corporate ladder they are. Those who are affected by this our best wishes go out in hopes of securing another job soon.
These strategic cuts can be seen as a way to curry favor with investors so that EA can continue push into other markets. I personally think EA sees Origin as being its biggest opportunity to control more of the PC and possibly the console markets, depending on how open the PS4 and next XBox will be. No matter how long-term its goals are, EA still has a fast approaching operating and fiscal report that must look favorable to investors and these cuts just seem like a short-term fix to an even bigger issue at the heart of EA, customer appreciation and releasing quality games.