Electronic Arts and the video game industry as a whole is starting to feel the pinch from the ongoing recession. With lagging sales and a declining share price, it looks as though EA is going to be doing some consolidation. First it was announced that the planned 2 floors of office space currently under construction in Yaletown set to be occupied by EA was put on hold. The office space has subsequently been rumoured to be leased out by EA to another company.
Then this past Friday, we learned that EA Black Box will be closing its studios in Downtown Vancouver(they occupy 6 floors in the PwC building) and will now be joining EA Canada’s Burnaby studios. This is all part of EA’s restructuring, which will Save them approximately $125 million a year. They also announced that they would be laying off an additional 4% of its workforce.The sad thing is EA is not alone. Other major publishers such as Take-Two Interactive (GTA series), Midway and THQ are all undergoing through major organization restructuring as they are get battered by the brutal economic forces at hand. So expect more layoffs in the industry. However, it should be noted that certain titles that were under development at EA Black such as Need For Speed and Skatewill still be retained.What is funny is that fanboys all over want EA to die as for some reason. They tend to believe that they are the root of all evil in the video game industry as they gobble up smaller independent studios. What fanboys fail to realize is that it is natural in any industry as it matures, consolidation will occur, ultimately leaving a few large and medium sized companies. Economics 101 idiots. Besides, EA has done a 180 on how it handles studios such as Bioware and Harmonix (Rock Band 2) giving them more freedom. Jealousy is a bitch and living in your parents basement complaining about the makers of NHL 09, Madden, The Sims and more great titles is futile.
Now there is some merit to the argument that EA just rehashes its sports titles. However, what else do you expect, you can not do something groundbreaking with a sports title every year. The titles still sell well every year and if the game sucks, guess what people don’t buy it. So EA is not entirely at fault here.
The consolidation is a necessary evil during tough economic times. Once we see a recovery, EA and the industry will be better off for it. At least they aren’t asking for a bailout, however Gordon Campbell needs to match the tax incentives given by the Quebec government in order to retain BC’s reputation as Canada’s video game production centre. Don’t fuck this one up Gordo.