Just before the holidays, Electronic Arts announced that it would be closing down its Black Box studio in Vancouver. At the time, reps for the company insisted that the move was a "consolidation" of facilities, with the staff of the Skate 2 and Need for Speed Undercover developer merely moving into the facilities of nearby EA Canada just outside the British Columbian metropolis.
Nearly one month later, the situation appears to have changed...for the worse. Sources within Black Box have told GameSpot that the developer has been hit by widespread layoffs, and at least 80 of its approximately 350 staffers have been sent packing. Online reports are painting an even more dire picture, with game-industry site Gamasutra pegging the number of redundancies at closer to 200--or nearly two-thirds of the studio's staff.
As of press time, EA reps had not commented on the status of Black Box. However, the layoffs would not be unexpected. In December, the Redwood City, California-based publisher announced that 10 percent of its staff would be let go, and yesterday reps for the company confirmed that Madden-maker EA Tiburon is being affected by the downsizing. EA-owned Mythic Entertainment, developer of the massively multiplayer role-playing game Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, is also reportedly being faced with painful payroll reductions.