Electronic Arts lays off 350 people from multiple teams, draws down presence in Japan and Russia

    
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We never claimed to be saints.

EA is undergoing major layoffs today. The nicest thing we can say about them is that at least it’s “only” 350 out of 9000 global employees, compared to the 800 dislodged from Activision-Blizzard earlier this year. It is not clear which games will be affected, but worth noting is that EA has several blockbuster hits on its hands at the moment, including Apex Legends.

Here’s the core part of official statement.

“Today we took some important steps as a company to address our challenges and prepare for the opportunities ahead. 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.”

Our sympathies are with the rank-and-file affected by this move.

Source: EA

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Bannex

Hey look a corporate dinosaur finally getting with the times and the legions of uneducated dystopian gamers attacking them for being late to the party.

Layoffs suck but the way EA has been doing things has also sucked. Shit happens, make changes or go up in flames.

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Bruno Brito

the legions of uneducated dystopian gamers

Lethality 2.0, engaged.

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Nathan Aldana

its everyones least favorite superhero, corporate apologist man./

Xijit
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Xijit

They didn’t say “Development” or “QA” anywhere in that, so I am guessing that this is about how well Apex Legends has done with zero promotion & EA (finally) going “maybe our marketing department is full of dipshits who shoot us in the foot with horrible communication and counterproductive interference with game design?”

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Anton Mochalin

This is very likely, Apex Legends is a clear demonstration of the changed rules of good videogame marketing. Behemoths like EA do change (at least try to) just not very quickly. Personally I like this situation in videogame industry a lot: F2P projects making insane amounts of money with no advertising while $60-a-box blockbusters sell lootboxes as if they’re F2P games and still earn much less money. We players have much more influence now. And we should remember that F2P model gives us this. With F2P more money is spent on improving gameplay and less on lying to us in trailers and press releases.

Xijit
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Xijit

I honestly prefer B2P over F2P, since it cleans up the community quite a bit, even if it is B2P with a cash shop / optional sub. But then no one will stick to their guns and we end up flooded with bots after the games goes F2P anyway (or they discount the game to $5 and pretend like that ain’t F2P).

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Well EA DID market Apex Legends, just not in the traditional manner. After all, they did spend couple of millions of dollars on sponsored streamers.

Xijit
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Xijit

No ad campaign, no E3 sizzle reel, no sea of shitty / misinformation tweets.

No attempt to “hype” the title or shill it to retailers.

You dont need an entire marketing division to hire a shit ton of twitch streamers to play your game.

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Bruno Brito

“Today we took some important steps as a company to address our challenges and prepare for the opportunities ahead. 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.”

Heavy PR but i love a challenge.

Translation:

“Today we took some steps that while of no importance to us because we don’t care about the bottom line per se, as long as we’re raking in the dough, is of the ultimost importance for our employees and you, the consumer, to address our self-imposed/shareholder-imposed deadlines and challenges. As we look across a changing would around us, it’s clear that we failed to change with it, but we have so much goddamn money that we can just keep looting all the studios we bought and keep afloat for like five more years. We’re making deliberate moves to “cut the fat” of our companies everytime we get something successful to embezzle our books and maximize profits, refining our organizations and meeting the needs of our accounts. As part of this, we have made changes to our development teams, publishing organization, operation teams and we are finally realizing we are failures who couldn’t get a foothold on the east market, fuck our players there. In addition to organizational changes, we are deeply focused on increasing quality in our services, because when we speak about our games, the sentiment is that the ship has sinked already. PR bullshit will continue to be at the core of everything we do, and we are thinking differently about how to amaze and inspire our players, which is to say we won’t because we don’t give a shit about them, and if even if we did, we couldn’t inspire anyone to save our lives.”

K38FishTacos
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K38FishTacos

90% of the words in that corporate-speak official statement could be omitted.

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Utakata

…in which either will illicit the same simple response. That is, “Horse manure!” o.O

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Jack Pipsam

Last month, EA laid off 50 developers at the Melbourne based Firemonkeys Studios, with that, EA managed to single-handily lay-off around 5% of the entire Australian game industry.

I know for a fact that Firemonkeys had been trying to get a couple awesome games off the ground, even got a little bit into some of them. Unique, original IP, not mobile games, but moving onto bigger, ambitious and I know they could have pulled it off, but EA canceled those projects as they didn’t want anything new, but just more Sims Mobile trash. EA even cancelled Real Racing 4, the idiots.

I suppose I should be ‘thankful’ that EA has kept Firemonkeys alive. Every other major publisher has pulled out of Australia. Do you know why? You have to legally pay people properly here, give employees rights. That’s too much of a cost for publishers who love to treat developers like they’re worth nothing. So we’re now just indie-land.

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Anton Mochalin

I personally like the idea that there’s labout market and the consumers (in this case corporations) are moving to where they can pay less. If you “pay people properly” and “give employees rights” employees better deliver. This is better for me as a videogames consumer (but only when I’m a rational consumer who reads reviews on Steam before buying).

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

I continue to be shocked when I think of the upset these events are having for real people with families, people just like us, who love games. They have always deserved much better.

So this isn’t meant to spite the workers, and I hope they can share my sentiment toward their former masters:

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PanagiotisLial1

Seems like a new trend. Whenever big companies get some good profit, they lay out a portion of their workforce to maximize it

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Bruno Brito

Which is unsustainable. Look forward to those people doing these decisions to sell their shares and use their silky silky parachute towards eternal vacations.

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Utakata

It really isn’t a new trend I’m afraid. :(

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Anton Mochalin

I don’t get why layoffs are considered bad. I’m totally sure the team which made Apex Legends isn’t laid off. And as it was said in another comment it’s likely that people laid off in this case were actually marketers. Which lied to us in Anthem trailers for example. Which didn’t help Anthem still. While Apex Legends is a hit without lying in game trailers.

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Bruno Brito

t’s likely that people laid off in this case were actually marketers. Which lied to us in Anthem trailers for example.

You speak like a marketing team operates independently from the corporate. They don’t.

While layoffs in a vacuum are normal for companies, there’s always the writing on the wall.

1- After Bobby Kotick pulled the same crap with Acti-Blizzard, look forward for every company trying to make the books more pretty by pulling this stunt now.

2- Layoffs are normal. A 350 layoff isn’t. A 800 layoff wasn’t. A 134 layoff on a studio that had 400 wasn’t.

Trimming the fat is one thing. Corporate changes cut waaay more deeply. And to be fair, this is EA we’re talking about. You’re being overly optimistic about a company that has been doing this shit for years now.

Old powers don’t change the older and richer they get. History is right there to prove that.

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Sally Bowls

Why is 350/9000 that abnormal? It is under 4% and back when rack&stack was a thing, companies wanted to get rid of their worst 1-3% of their employees every year. Turnover on 9000 employees means that 350 voluntarily leave every couple of months; two to three thousand a year. 134/400 is abnormal; it is not business as usual. 3-4% is not normal, but it does seem to me – more than you -much closer to “trimming the fat” than a corporate sea change. (And of course, what is fat in the spreadsheet are still real human beings.)

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Bruno Brito

Indeed. I stand corrected, altho i still think is a heavy layoff. The timing throws me off, tho. Wouldn’t you want more workers when you get a success to keep up the good work, instead of laying off people?

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Sally Bowls

But nothing about this precludes them wanting more workers. To paraphrase the Harry Met Sally line, it is they did not want those jobs. If you are a small, homogeneous company, then if game#17 softens, you can move people to game#18. But the bigger the company, the more specialized and less interchangeable the jobs.

Take a company that has 2000 PC devs and they want to grow the devs but they want 1200 mobile devs and 1000 PC devs. They want to hire a net 200 (hiring 10%; good news) but it is attrition or layoffs of 1000 while hiring 1200. If EA needs more mobile devs in Korea or console devs in Austin but has too many community managers in Russia, it is not feasible to transfer the people. So laying off 40% of your people due to losing money is not good news. A company shredding people in businesses/products/divisions that are underperforming and putting them on projects that are expected to outperform can be a good thing (assuming they treat the released people humanely and are right about which are the winning and losing products.)

There are also some trends that transend gaming. Blizzards previous round of layoffs was a much larger % of workers. Most of those were customer service people who were no longer needed due to automation. I think for Blizzard, Blizzard’s competitors, and non-gaming companies, the % of revenue that goes to customer service employees will decline; in the past, that was due to outsourcing, increasingly due to automation. And Blizzard and other gaming companies need fewer employees to support their retail channel as less is sold in stores like GameStop.

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Utakata

I suppose looking it another way, getting cancer or loosing a limb isn’t considered bad either…

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Sana Tan

“and we are thinking differently about how to amaze and inspire our players.”

Oh EA, you do amaze me indeed, even when I always expect the worst, you deliver the best of shows.

K38FishTacos
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K38FishTacos

Yep, that’s some BS corporate-speak right there.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Ramping down Russia and Japan.

I didn’t realize they had a Russia branch.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

They did, but it was mostly for marketing games – for example I’ve seen “sponsored” posts on some Russian sites promoting Anthem back when it was released. I guess that didn’t work as good as EA expected and now they’re scaling it down.

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Schmidt.Capela

Russia is a big market, but AFAIK it’s also one where players are used to paying for their Steam games just 30%-50% of what US players pay, and that before you take into account the ever-happening sales.

EA, on the other hand, seems to have eliminated regional pricing a couple years ago, meaning Russian players have to pay 2x-3x more for EA games than for similar games from Steam. I would expect EA’s market share, and Russian revenue, to have fallen sharply, and piracy of their titles to have sharply risen above the piracy rate for (far more reasonably priced) games from Steam.

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Castagere Shaikura

I just wish they would lose the Star Wars license.

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Armsman

Given that Disney has effectively (re)started Lucasfilm Games:

Lucasfilm Games Has Been Restarted By Disney

I’d say the writing’s on the wall WRT the Star Wars games license and EA.

EA most likely realizes Disney will NOT opt to renew when the current license term ends.

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Castagere Shaikura

I can only dream.

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Greaterdivinity

IIRC they’ve said that’s largely going to be to manage their relationship with external developers using the IP, it’s not being spun up to create original games.

Because despite the issues, Disney has continued to be bullish about their partnership with EA.