Rumor: EA Closes PopCap Vancouver, EA Partners - UPDATED

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Rumor: EA Closes PopCap Vancouver, EA Partners - UPDATED

The word on the street is that the plug is being pulled on Electronic Arts' publishing service for independent developers, while Quicklime Games and PopCap's Vancouver studio are no more.

The EA Partners program is a publishing and distribution channel for third-party developers and over the years it's led to deals with studios including Crytek, Epic Games, Double Fine, Valve, Grasshopper Manufacture and more. But according to "multiple anonymous sources close to the matter," it will soon be shut down, presumably as a result of the deep cuts that have swept across EA since the resignation of former CEO John Riccitiello.

Meanwhile, based on a tweet from Vancouver-based game designer and producer Palle Hoffstein, EA has also shutdown PopCap Vancouver and Quicklime Games, the co-developer of Need for Speed: World.

EA hasn't yet confirmed the closures but posted an "organizational update" message on its blog today acknowledging the "hard but essential changes" that have taken place. "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," it says. "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."

The drastic cuts that have fallen upon the company in recent weeks may well be necessary, but they're still unfortunate for those affected. We've contacted EA for further information and will update as it comes available.

Source: Game Informer

UPDATE: EA has declined to disclose numbers or which teams have been impacted by the cuts, saying only that today's statement "addresses cumulative changes made through today."

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According to other people it could be up to 2000 people let go, Kotaku says something about 10% of the entire company: http://kotaku.com/layoffs-at-ea-today-481149396

I wonder if we'll still have to deal with EA in two years time.

EA's girth is getting the better of them. I wouldn't be surprised if these cuts continue and EA ends up downsizing and focusing all of their efforts on a specific demographic. I'd have thought a multimedia conglomerate would have bought them out by now, but considering how poor their stock's doing I don't really blame anyone from staying away.

Hopefully this ends soon. As much as I feel the industry needs to undergo a big change, it always sucks to have studios close and people lose their jobs.

I wish someone would step in and buy these companies out from EA. All they want to do now is make TVs anyway, But they'll wait to switch until after Bioware collapses under the weight of it's first release on the PS4. Got's to wring 'em all dry.

It's hard not to feel sorry for the victims that got laid off, but it's also somewhat their fault for knowingly staying in such an abusive relationship. On the bright side, they're finally free.

EA is on the roll. I don't see how shutting down a third-party publishing service will benefit them.

In recent weeks, EA has aligned all elements of its organizational structure behind priorities in new technologies and mobile

So that involves firing loads of their mobile developers? Just what are you up to EA? This is probably more interesting than any of their recent games. It could be a bold new direction in the games industry that involves making no games but instead assimilating studios then firing them without reason.

I'm thinking that EA's financials are in much much worse shape than anyone is really suspecting. These sudden waves of unexpected closures and layoffs without the usual gradual business foreshadowings. The sudden retrenchment and total overnight abandonment of entire swaths of the industry. Even somewhat successful ones. I'm thinking somebody got a look at the books and is now panicking. It's one thing to trim the fat, prop up the share price, shut down unsuccessful experiments or simply stop the bleeding from things that they paid too much for ($200 million for a social game company?), but this feels strange. This feels like someone is suddenly finding unexpected exposure and risk somewhere. Start watching the shareholders, and keep an eye peeled for any legal action from them.

I'm thinking their MMO's take the next hit.

*dances around with unereasable grin on face*

Adam Jensen:
EA is on the roll. I don't see how shutting down a third-party publishing service will benefit them.

Maybe an attempt to cut costs fast and shrink the company while they're at it. These past few years its been all to easy to get the impression EA is collapsing under its own weight.

Besides, we don't know if this partners program was still making a profit. For all we know it could have been dragging them down further.

The same is likely going to happen to Blizzard Activision at some point down the road if World of Warcraft ends up puttering out, which from my perspective it seems to be doing at a rather steady pace. Even I'm switching away from the game now and I've played it since it was released in 2004.

EA: GeE! I wondr why were dur wor1st company in 'merica!? WE C4N DO BTAR!
-Closes down POPCAP-

Me: *Facedesk*

Cannot be too surprised, apparently there are development offices in Canada that are reaching towards the end of tax breaks that were given to boost the industry. Canada itself is facing a bust from the gaming industry because of this.

Fappy:
EA's girth is getting the better of them. I wouldn't be surprised if these cuts continue and EA ends up downsizing and focusing all of their efforts on a specific demographic. I'd have thought a multimedia conglomerate would have bought them out by now, but considering how poor their stock's doing I don't really blame anyone from staying away.

Hopefully this ends soon. As much as I feel the industry needs to undergo a big change, it always sucks to have studios close and people lose their jobs.

Maybe after seeing THQ go down, potential buyers are waiting for EA to fall apart so they can bid on bits and pieces of the company.

If EA does fall apart, I'm guessing it'll be a very slow fall. I imagine they still have plenty of chances now to correct themselves before their investors want to bail with paychecks from liquidation.

Remember that movie "The Neverending Story" where the hero Atreyu has to contend with the sinister force of the "Nothing" which is basically a representation of human greed and power that consumes and destroys everything it comes in contact with? Yeah that's what EA reminds me of.

What's a new CEO to do to make it clear they're going to make EA profitable? Well, cuts of course!

I feel for those who are losing their jobs, I'm not sure the actual move strikes me as the right one (but what do I know..), but it's very common practice for a new CEO to try to 'make their mark' and show shareholders they're taking action (often, any action).

EA's focus has always been short-term financial return, and what better way to show shareholders that you're taking swift decisive action than a good old 'reorganisation & strategic reduction of inefficiences'. In fact, a new CEO probably can't not take clear action and re-align the business, or they then have to answer the question 'so what are you doing to change things?'.

Their biggest sales still appear to come from FIFA, Sims, and Battlefield. Anything else is genuinely marginal by comparison and potentially expendable. It sucks, it truly does, but that's the harsh reality of these large corporations.

Colt47:
The same is likely going to happen to Blizzard Activision at some point down the road if World of Warcraft ends up puttering out, which from my perspective it seems to be doing at a rather steady pace. Even I'm switching away from the game now and I've played it since it was released in 2004.

That particular scenario only looms if multiple large releases (such as the fabled Titan) crash and burn. World of Warcraft is on the decline, so they're simultaneously extending its lifespan, and working on a replacement that will be announced right about when WoW goes on life support.

EA, on the other hand, already has had multiple costly failures. Generally not because games sold badly, but because they threw so much money at them they needed to sell like hot cakes set on fire. Dead Space 3 and Sim City are probably the best illustrations of this. There already was the hooplah around them actually coming forward and saying Dead Space 3 needed to sell 5 million copies, and by a rough estimate of development costs I'd wager that Sim City barely broke even so far.

Then there's always the outright failures such as MoH: Warfighter. That didn't do their bottom line any favours either.

Since EA has been able to make it to the news every week for the past like 6 months (99% bad news) I can't say I am surprised to see the life slowly leaked out of them.

Absolutionis:
It's hard not to feel sorry for the victims that got laid off, but it's also somewhat their fault for knowingly staying in such an abusive relationship. On the bright side, they're finally free.

You know when someone buys your company you don't really have a say when it comes to this. EA owns PopCap, it's not a relationship they control, they can't leave as long as EA owns them.They could probably buy their company back, but that wont happen with a relatively small company like PopCap.

Nowhere Man:
Remember that movie "The Neverending Story" where the hero Atreyu has to contend with the sinister force of the "Nothing" which is basically a representation of human greed and power that consumes and destroys everything it comes in contact with? Yeah that's what EA reminds me of.

"People without imagination are easier to control."

Damn, good point!

However, with everything pushing in on nothing, soon there will be nothing LEFT of nothing, so it'll be...something. And then, we'll be able to use a DIFFERENT quote on EA.

"Hail Eldrad! King...of nothing."

I'm so sorry for the people they've gotten rid of, but I kinda have this 'WELL IT'S EA ARE YOU THAT SURPRISED?!'
Gnome screaming in the back of my head.

Very shitty state of affairs.

Is anyone still suprised? If anyone can find a nice list that includes purchase and shutdown dates we can calculate an average and just start a countdown every time EA purchases a company.

And they still claim they don't deserve the worst company in america 'price'

what a surprise, EA buys a studio and closes them down not long after.

Around 2000 jobs lost? Yikes. If this is the start of EA going down the THQ path then it is going to get pretty painful. Well who ever the new ceo ends up being, for his sake I hope he has big enough bucket to bail out all the water.

*sigh*... So, has Popcap released... well, anything new since signing on with EA?

I mean, they laid off George Fan shortly after the acquisition; it wouldn't surprise me if morale at the company wasn't exactly bucking for the skies even before this. Still, this seems like a better-than-usual example of EA taking a company that seemed to be doing pretty well under its own steam and running it into the ground.

And I understand the company is headquartered in Seattle, so closing the Vancouver branch doesn't mean the end of the company. Still... Damn, EA. You sure seem to be making a hash out of a nine-to-ten figure acquisition.

I remember when we liked EA

It's not really a big surprise that they're pulling out of Canada like everybody else, though...

faefrost:
I'm thinking their MMO's take the next hit.

I don't.

EA's counting on its MMOs to save it right now. Their push for so many heavily-monetized F2P MMOs is part of John's initiative to capitalize on the micro-transaction craze. It's the real reason why Bioware's SWTOR team was reduced, with those people shuffled away to work on "other projects"....those "other projects" are the other upcoming MMOs they want to make.

What I do think will happen is that Bioware's going to become their de-facto "MMO maker" and that EA will shut down all of their future non-MMO projects at some point as a cost-cutting measure. All three of their new MMO properties (SWTOR, Ultima Forever, Command and Conquer) have both the EA and Bioware logos on them, and you can expect to see that trend continue as they move away from single player gaming and embrace the easily-monetized and "social" MMO model.

EA must be in trouble now. Can't say it really angers me. Yeah that's a lot of jobs gone, but hopefully it'll wake up the rest of the industry.
If this continues, EA will likely be bought by a larger entertainment firm before it tanks, and if that happens... who knows, they're dodgy business handling might only get worse...

We will have to wait and see just how many actually get the axe; see if it's just more "accumulative cuts", or a mad rush to keep their shareholders on board.

They pay millions for these studios, why do they just shutter them in these situations? They could at least try to find a buyer or other way to let the studio continue to operate while still giving up their financial commitment. I never hear news articles along the lines of 'EA sells studio X to publisher Y' or even 'EA cuts ties to studio X, studio X searching for other financial backers'.

Are they going to have any studios left after this? It's been, like, 2-3 straight weeks of layoffs.

CriticKitten:

faefrost:
I'm thinking their MMO's take the next hit.

I don't.

EA's counting on its MMOs to save it right now. Their push for so many heavily-monetized F2P MMOs is part of John's initiative to capitalize on the micro-transaction craze. It's the real reason why Bioware's SWTOR team was reduced, with those people shuffled away to work on "other projects"....those "other projects" are the other upcoming MMOs they want to make.

What I do think will happen is that Bioware's going to become their de-facto "MMO maker" and that EA will shut down all of their future non-MMO projects at some point as a cost-cutting measure. All three of their new MMO properties (SWTOR, Ultima Forever, Command and Conquer) have both the EA and Bioware logos on them, and you can expect to see that trend continue as they move away from single player gaming and embrace the easily-monetized and "social" MMO model.

Bioware may become the defacto in house MMO center. But that will most likely be achieved by slashing and burning throughout any other still existing MMO properties and moving all MMO management and development under one roof. So whatever is left of the Ultima folks and the Mythic folks will be pounding pavement.

But even with that, SWTOR is part of the problem. It cost too much to make. It cost more to make then could ever be made back with f2p transactions. Heck it cost more to make then could ever be made back in a reasonable time frame with a monthly subscription model (if your name isn't Blizzard). SWTOR carries on because the cost of such a failure is still felt to be too high. But here's the danger. SWTOR is probably never in and of itself going to make it's development costs back. The math just doesn't work for it. But it is a good paid for platform for working out bugs and tech and methodology for that microtransaction driven model that you talk about. This is great, and keeps the game going... up until the point where new management or a clever accountant points out that it would have a better effect on the bottom line to just shutter it, take the loss and write it off for tax purposes. I suspect that the numbers from the SWTOT Hutt expansion will be watched closely at corporate.

Johnson McGee:
They pay millions for these studios, why do they just shutter them in these situations? They could at least try to find a buyer or other way to let the studio continue to operate while still giving up their financial commitment. I never hear news articles along the lines of 'EA sells studio X to publisher Y' or even 'EA cuts ties to studio X, studio X searching for other financial backers'.

That's because EA often buys the studios in large part for the IP. Even if they shutter the studio they still own and control the IP.

-Dragmire-:

Fappy:
EA's girth is getting the better of them. I wouldn't be surprised if these cuts continue and EA ends up downsizing and focusing all of their efforts on a specific demographic. I'd have thought a multimedia conglomerate would have bought them out by now, but considering how poor their stock's doing I don't really blame anyone from staying away.

Hopefully this ends soon. As much as I feel the industry needs to undergo a big change, it always sucks to have studios close and people lose their jobs.

Maybe after seeing THQ go down, potential buyers are waiting for EA to fall apart so they can bid on bits and pieces of the company.

If EA does fall apart, I'm guessing it'll be a very slow fall. I imagine they still have plenty of chances now to correct themselves before their investors want to bail with paychecks from liquidation.

the problem is, if EA falls there probably won't be anyone with the interest or the backing to bid on those pieces. EA falling would trigger the second great video game crash (if it isn't already happening). Investors and financial institutions would be loathe to throw money at those seeking to buy up its assets at anything beyond junk prices. There won't be a lot of venture capital out there to develop the projects. The fall of EA might make video games toxic from a financial services point of view. We as gamers don't want that. As much as we hate EA, we do not want them going under. We want them smaller, better, and back to delivering the sorts of games we grew up with. But them falling over completely is bad for all of us.

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