EA responded to our inquiry with the following statement,
“EA is growing and looking to hire hundreds of people for our digital, console, mobile and social games. Like all game companies, we make occasional adjustments to resize teams as projects are completed and new priorities are established. Overall, we expect that headcount will be up at the end of this year.”
This reply strikes a hopeful tone, but isn’t nearly as definitive in quashing the murmurings as this quote published on MCV earlier today,
“There are no lay-offs as such, we always have projects growing and morphing. At any given time there are new people coming in and others leaving. EA is growing and hiring and building teams to support the growing demand for digital games and services.”
By industry standards, and compared to some other players, EA isn’t having a horrible year. However, the acquisition of PopCap Games cost the company $650 million in cash and $100 million in stock (per VentureBeat). Additionally, Battlefield 3’s significant early online issues and failure to live up to sales expectations in the face of the juggernaut Call of Duty franchise have surely put the company in a difficult spot, especially if reports of an alleged $30 million in additional, post-ship marketing poured into the title are true. Both of these, along with other internal factors could put EA in a position where reorganization is necessary.
Of course, it certainly doesn’t help that this rumor comes hot on the heels of EA taking the crown as Consumerist’s Worst Company in America. (Really? They’re worse than a bank that illegitimately forecloses on people’s homes? Come on.)
The bright side is that there is often opportunity for developers laid off of projects to apply internally for other positions. EA is an enormous company that has consumed studios left and right for years. As roles are completed on projects (or initiatives are canceled), there is always a reasonable chance that some employees will get picked up for other internal work. If the numbers of 500-1,000 are true, this won’t save everyone, but it could severely lessen the impact.
Again, all of the talk of layoffs continues to be rumor, with only EA’s equivocation in their response standing in they way of us labeling this as a false alarm.