EA Black Box staff sent packing

At least 80 employees of Skate 2 and Need for Speed developer given walking papers; online reports put number at nearly 200.

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.

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79 comments
zombieTerror028
zombieTerror028

so like... who is gonna make skate 3... please tell there will be a skate 3 :(

Zoomer30
Zoomer30

Wonder where EA read that its OK to lie. I mean, why say your not gonna lay people off when you know your are? What, are you afaird people could jump ship for a better gig (any other job is a step up from EA)

Sir_Hobo
Sir_Hobo

R41N_M4K3R: Here in Canada we're experiencing the recession nearly as much as the US. That's WHY Black Box is going down. I know someone who got laid off in it though, and he got a load of severance pay, so it could be worse.

PSgamer99
PSgamer99

man, theres a few EA games i really love (e.g. burnout, dead space) and they bailed the ps3 out on the orange box, even though it wasnt as good as the pc/360 versions. youre right though tonyhawksP8, theyre awfully good at ruining things, and this is just horrible

tonyhawksP8
tonyhawksP8

EA is great at ruining things, so expect more of this in the not so distant future.

R41N_M4K3R
R41N_M4K3R

too bad to see them fired at least they are in canada they dont have to worry about the U S economy

Foggel
Foggel

Black Box did a great job on Skate 2. It's too bad to see them go.

dan4824
dan4824

This is nuts! I know, people are losing jobs, which sucks, but EA is actually doing good with the NFS series. It just needs to see that CUTTING THE GAME IN HALF ON WII AND PSP IS NOT THE ANSWER! Thats the true reason that profits are down so much! Who acually wants to buy a half-game!

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

EA makes everything painful, even working for them. Apparently. At least other companies had the decency to do this AFTER Xmas.

Cranio3000
Cranio3000

Poor people, fired because sales aren't going well and industry is screwed :'(

necronaux
necronaux

well this sucks. The economy is effecting every industry, hard.

msudude211
msudude211

Cuts left and right. I'm sorry to hear this...

angelkadaj
angelkadaj

that really sucks. I feel sorry for these people

blackace
blackace

It's sad that they did this just before the holidays. Looks like they just held on to a 100 or so people until after the new year and then gave them their pink slip. That sucks. One reason why working in the gaming industry isn't the best job. If you want a permanent job either work for a new hospital that just opened or one of the Top 25 colleges in the U.S. Both places rarely ever have layoffs because they always have large sums of money coming in. People are always sick and teenagers are always paying for good colleges.

DCSKATER12
DCSKATER12

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

subzero2010
subzero2010

The same Good Words, who said :- In all honesty, EA does not care about their employees or what they produce, they just want the maximum profit possible, and to corner the market on independant publishers

subzero2010
subzero2010

Lol - Go To Hell EA :( That's Suck Games It Made In 2008 Like ( Red Alert 3 - FiFa 09 - MERCENARIES 2 - NEED FOR SPEED UNDERCOVER - Warhammer Online - Spore ) And More Coming Very Bad, The Only Company In The world Go To Bad Not For Good !! I Hope it Respond to the call of reason and be good in the future :)

kuda001
kuda001

it looks like they are using the current economic downturn as an excuse to lay off staff, poor guys and so soon after skate 2.

SweetMusic
SweetMusic

Skate is good, NFS not so much...4/10 on IGN...

Generalmojo
Generalmojo

damn, imagine how those got dumped feel :*(

mrjasler
mrjasler

As John Riccietello said, "we were torturing the blackbox studio with yearly cycles" well john,now you have just executed them!

shazam_lp
shazam_lp

Sucks for all the companies that got run over by EA.

MaddenBowler10
MaddenBowler10

So much for me wanting to become a game designer. Looks like most game industries are cuttind down on employees, not looking for more.

mrjasler
mrjasler

John Riccitello recently said that games get bad because of mis-management. So he doesn't fire any of the management team at blackbox for their horrid work on undercover and prostreet? I just don't understand the logic here?

VenomRitual
VenomRitual

they didn't want to wait to see how skate 2 performs?

Inconnux
Inconnux

@svpaladin Once again people use cliches and slogans when they don't understand how the system actually works. The vast majority of these 'greedy stockholders' are pension funds. Next time you see a retired person struggling, let them know how greedy they are by investing in these companies through their unions/retirement plans. If I was a stockholder I would be upset with EA for spending a ton of cash to buy development studios just to drop them.

ecs33
ecs33

And let's not forget, it could be a fact that upper management in this case is looking after itself. But if this keeps up, the Board of Directors will not like the cost of cutting and rehiring employees (a big cost) and the lack of improvement regardless of the cuts. Upper management has their bosses as well. Upper Management can look after itself for a short time, but it must meet those cuts with results otherwise their butts are out of here.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

Well, they have the engine and the basics that they can milk for a good 3 or 4 more sequels. Why keep the staff at the initial development levels? Yeah, sucks beans for the developers... but that is the industry.

ecs33
ecs33

@KSigMTSU: Sure their profits are higher, but a bad economy will surely increase their costs to other things. Every corporation depends on so many other companies to provide their own services, and i'm sure EA depends on many organizations which have nothing to do with gaming. I haven't looked at the numbers, but I know there is more to it than just sales. How is their actual profit?

KSigMTSU
KSigMTSU

The real thing that seems to be happening with EA here is that they are using the excuse of a poor overall economy to justify cutting labor costs company-wide in a year when game sales actually had higher than expected growth. Their own sales were actually good this year, they are only doing this to make their P/L numbers look better to attract more capital from stock sales. It has nothing to do with gaming, or the quality of the games the people they are letting go produced. Hell, even EA didn't churn out their normal amount of bad games this year, it was a very good year for games. They just want their bottom line to look even better than it did before, and since they at the moment have good sales, the layoffs make their profit per share higher, and will generate more capital. It would not surprise me in the least to see EA go back into acquiring companies very rapidly if other companies start showing average or bad numbers and they look like they would be available to buy out in the near future. In all honesty, EA does not care about their employees or what they produce, they just want the maximum profit possible, and to corner the market on independant publishers.

PhantomMarvel
PhantomMarvel

it's like, "Thank you all for your hard work..oh and by the way you're all fired...Thank You and have a nice day"...Didn't you get the memo

ecs33
ecs33

@svpaladin: True, but if you don't appeal to the stockholders and don't look good on paper, the value of your stock goes down and thus the source of your capital diminishes. The stockholders are the most important part of a corporation.

Autolycus
Autolycus

"congratulations on making one of the best IP's (skate) we've had in a long long time. You're fired."

phase4illini
phase4illini

xbox4life76 is right on with his comments. Unfortunately the way the global market is right now, I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel. We were foolish to think that gaming would be unaffected by economic woes elsewhere, even with sales being what they were last year. And with such a blockbuster year, many great titles went under the radar in generating solid sales. I think we may have seen a year in which too many great games actually hurt the industry in general, and I hope that doesn't lead to a reversion (particularly at EA) to companies producing more fodder.

SlayerX13
SlayerX13

Thanks for the great games now GTFO. If they would concentrate more on innovation and less on rehashing sequels maybe they would have to fire employees.

Feniks9174
Feniks9174

The part that bugs me the most about this is that I really feel that Black Box could have made some really awesome blockbuster games had they not been chained to a one year development cycle. Instead, they were forced to push out recycled crap and when sales dropped they ended up paying the price. I really hate EA . . .

furqan2006
furqan2006

need for speed undercover sucked so they had to do it

xbox4life76
xbox4life76

Is it me or does it seem like everyday when I come on Gamespot I hear news of Layoffs from a vide variety of companies....jeez...we really need to hear some good news. I'm not as concerned about the quality of games or what games come out but hearing people losing jobs regardless of what area in the industry they come from is a bit sad...I'll do my share and continue to buy games...

jimbob_1977
jimbob_1977

shame for the ppl, but hey, i just lost my job so meh, more gaming time :)

Shunjinko
Shunjinko

Stupid EA, Black Box is freakin awesome

tekken220
tekken220

Wow, it turns out that the saying " what comes up must go down" is true. Probably some time later, EA will realize all their mistakes and will make good games again. (They could have made NFS Underground 3, NFS Hot Pursuit 3 or NFS Most Wanted 2...)

jedikevin2
jedikevin2

Well this is what happens when the gamign industry has become a monoploy. Big EA, ubi or actibliz buy up the studios and use them as buffer zones when the market isn't right. Since most gaming "staffers" have no unions etc there used as money cannon fodder when things go wrong. Its a bad time to be working in the game industry. You make good money but when something goes wrong, you better hope Wal-mart has a opening for a few months.

svpaladin
svpaladin

In the following, caps = italics, for emphasis, not shouting... First off, NOBODY should have to take a pay cut. Most of these companies still turn a PROFIT, which means that, somewhere, there's still money floating around. However, due to greedy STOCKHOLDERS, who absolutely MUST get the biggest dividend possible, every company is forced to decide on what steps it must take to ensure that profit number stays as high as possible. And, in the face of declining sales, which translates into the potential for declining profits, they lay off early in order to maintain the profit number, and "happy stockholders". THAT, my friends, is my honest opinion on why the economy is tanking, grubby little stockholders who insist on an extra $0.05 per share every 3 months than a few hundred people still working. Oh, that also explains the glut of cheaply rehashed games too... And, because the big suits are still churning big profit numbers and therefore big dividends, the stockholders are happy with them, and THAT is why they still have their jobs. Find stockholders willing to take a cut to dividends to keep people working, and lo and behold, the CEOs and CFOs will start keeping people in order to keep their jobs...

The_Solid
The_Solid

hopefully these laid off ppl's skills will go over to some1 who deserved it.like insomaniac.

Megawizard
Megawizard

"Most of the top brass will keep their jobs and nice salaries, while the designers, programmers, artists etc will be the ones losing their jobs." Not to mention the ones that are left will have to work even harder for less.

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

The cuts will no doubt be much larger than reported - any contract staff - making up to half the numbers in a studio, will also get laid off. But since they aren't counted by EA as "staffers" they won't be counted in any lay-off figures. Most of the top brass will keep their jobs and nice salaries, while the designers, programmers, artists etc will be the ones losing their jobs.

FortisEM
FortisEM

EA execs: "hmmm. Giving up my six/seven figure bonus this year, or letting go of 200 developers? EASY!" This, after they bought VG Holding Corp (BioWare/Pandemic) for $775,000,000 ($620 million of that in cash!). That's just dirty. -Evan