EA Chicago closing

Windy City studio the second operation to be shuttered in third-party publisher's round of consolidations, layoffs.

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Last week, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello announced in a quarterly earnings conference call that the publisher would be weathering a round of layoffs and studio closures. At the time, the only operation confirmed for closure was the EA Chertsey studio in the UK. Today, GameSpot has obtained an internal EA memo stating that EA Chicago is also being closed.

EA Chicago is best known for its work on the Def Jam and Fight Night franchises. It had been working on a new licensed Marvel fighting game, as well as a second fighting game based on a new intellectual property. The Fight Night series has already been moved to an EA Sports studio, and an EA representative said that announcements would be made regarding EA Chicago's other projects in the future.

The memo, sent by EA Games president Frank Gibeau, states that EA will announce the closure today, and calls it "the toughest decision I've made in my career--one that in no way reflects on the talent and dedication of the people who work there." Gibeau singled out studio general manager Kudo Tsunoda as one of the best creative minds in the industry, and said that many of the affected employees will be offered jobs at other EA locations, with those leaving the company receiving severance and outplacement assistance.

"We're willing to take risks, make long-term investments, and to support teams and individuals between launches," Gibeau said. "But each team is responsible for staying on a reasonable path to profitability. Sticking to that strategy is what gives us the financial resources and flexibility to take risks on new projects.

"Unfortunately, EA Chicago hasn't been able to meet that standard. The location has grown dramatically in the past three years while revenue from the games developed there has not. The number of employees has grown from 49 in 2004 to 146 people currently in the new facility in downtown Chicago. As it stands, EA Chicago has no expectation of hitting our profitability targets until FY2011 or later."

Gibeau stressed again that the company was willing to take risks and make long-term investments, but added every game must "be committed to delivering a reasonable expectation of profitability" if the company's corporate philosophy is going to work.

"It's a performance commitment that binds us together and ensures we have the resources we need to invest back into our people and creative output," Gibeau said.

Discussion

240 comments
Chuckwick
Chuckwick

I am thankful they fired that kudo guy, totally ruined the series..... I thought he knew it was time for a simulation boxing game......HAYMAKER was the worst invention ever........Guess he'll have more time to pose with women now that he got fired.........ps DEf Jam was pitiful IMO

King_Louis51
King_Louis51

Fight Night Round 3 was awesome, i hope whichever studio develops Round 4 doesn't wreck the franchise... like EA Chicago did when they took over Def Jam from AKI.

playa42018
playa42018

I'm sure this had nothing to do with the butchering of the Def Jam Franchise.

BewilderedRonin
BewilderedRonin

I agree with animateria. I'm one of the last people to defend EA (I can't even think of the last time I bought an EA studio game, as I don't really play sports games). But the fact that they are trying to secure jobs for these employees and help them deal with this painful transition is pretty unheard of. Especially amongst giant corporations. A kinder, softer, gentler EA!? Did hell finally freeze over?

animateria
animateria

"...many of the affected employees will be offered jobs at other EA locations, with those leaving the company receiving severance and outplacement assistance." Its really interesting how people only read part of the story and spin it into an evil plot by the villain EA. Its nothing new in the industry for this to happen. ESPECIALLY in the last months of a year. All the projects that are due for the holiday season is over and they need less staff. I'm neutral with EA. (Why should I get emotionally involved with a corporation?) And find it humorous how people attack them with hatred. Grow up. Its a business world. Its harsher because its the gaming industry. Its cold and unforgiving. Not made of rainbows and sunshine like you would like to imagine.

truenextgen
truenextgen

Wow so you have to wonder how many more screw ups of their big franchises on the new system it takes before they close even those areas off. Lesson here, screw up a game loose your job lol. Cant learn new hardware, they'll replace you.

audioaxes
audioaxes

this is the ugly reality of the game development industry: if this was a an indendent studio they would have simply went bankrupt and all the devs would still need to find a new job

audioaxes
audioaxes

this is the ugly reality of the game development industry: if this was a an indendent studio they would have simply went bankrupt and all the devs would still need to find a new job

Ravi_1900
Ravi_1900

Wow this one was id for EA. They touched the graphics to whole new limits and brought EA out of mediocrity in that aspect. They (EA) are really gonna cry for its return.

mrkame16
mrkame16

Gibeau said. "But each team is responsible for staying on a reasonable path to profitability.....EA is full of Sh*t...layoffs after purchasing bioware/pandemic. nuff said

mrkame16
mrkame16

Gibeau said. "But each team is responsible for staying on a reasonable path to profitability.....EA is full of Sh*t...layoffs after purchasing bioware/pandemic. nuff said

whitey3221
whitey3221

Just for anybody that's crying about artists/programmers losing their jobs...I have heard that many of the EA Chicago guys got hired on at midway. Perhaps now that the best EA office now basically belongs to midway, midway will produce something good.

GIF
GIF

That said, its too bad lots of talented artists and programmers were fired even though they were working their ass of doing what they loved. EA will continue to gain a negative rep among fans as it continues to compromise creative choices to release games when they are not ready. Case in point are games like Superman. At least it has games like Need for Speed though. EA LA does Command and Conquer, EA Montreal does Need for Speed while EA Tiburon does Madden but what happens to Fight Night and the Marvel Fighting game if EA Chicago is gone?

GIF
GIF

How can EA Chicago be blamed for lack of sales? Their games in development were not out yet and while the last title was a dud (Def Jam : Icon), Fight Night Round 3 kicked all sorts of ass and the upcoming Marvel game looked to be awesome. Now we will never know unless the games development is transferred over to another EA internal studio. Its amazing that morons in the marketing department and executives can be responsible for running a game company when even fans realize that good games are created by artists and programmer run companies like Blizzard and Bungie who love games and do not compromise quality to meet some idiotic fiscal budget. This is a case of EA getting too large for its own good and being run be the wrong kind of people.

sidious
sidious

I have bad things to say about EA at times myself, and I don't like moves like this, especially at the rate EA buys out other developers/publishers. But to trash them completely seems foolish as well. They have to be doing something right to be one of the top publishers/developers in the industry. Like it or not, their games sell. You can argue the quality or lack of creativity in many of their titles, but again, money talks. If you don't like EA so much, don't buy their games. I for one enjoy too many of their games to make too loud of a fuss over them. Granted, they haven't published a game that I would call one of my favorites in years. But there are some fun games coming out of them none the less. And now that they own Bioware/Pandamic (the makers of some of my favorite games of all time), I am hoping that will change. But it does make me sad and afraid for the smaller developers they buy out. EA Chicago had some good work. Fight Night 3 was awesome. I wasn't a fan of Def Jam. It is still sad. But this sort of thing goes with the business. Remember when Capcom gave the axe to Clover Studios? I nearly shed a tear over that one. I just wish the system awarded creativity more than money. But that will never happen in this world. The love of money is after all, the root of evil. Point. I had a point some where. oh yeah, EA does plenty wrong and this is a sad happening, especially this time of year. But as long as we buy EA's games, we can only complain so much. After all, we are the dollars they live for.

bentleg
bentleg

Well infinity ward are hiring apprently good luck getting jobs.

Devvy01
Devvy01

did they just spend a whole heap of $$$, cheap, cheap

aygol
aygol

EA could save its own studios instead of buying other studios like BioWare and ruin them.

MadGamer132
MadGamer132

that's okay, the biz changes every day.

leifestes
leifestes

I used to be an artist at EA in redwood city, they treat people the best they can for a large company. With 200+ person production teams on next gen products, layoffs are going to become more common industy wide. Ask any film 3d artist how long they expect to have a job.

Kounji
Kounji

Companies have to stay profitable otherwise it doesn't keep the investors happy and its less money to spend on more quality games. On the flip side its terrible that people are going to be jobless before the holidays, and will most likely have to move to find development studios looking to hire in other cities.

imortiferus
imortiferus

jerwebdev, whatcha talking about? FNR3 was the single most reason for a lot of people buying a 360 at launch, the game was awesome! though far from perfect, at least It was't a button masher and required some skills to get the job done. As far as the haymakers, hey that IS boxing one punch KO 30 second fights.

WormyTheWorm
WormyTheWorm

a shame that some ppl lost their jobs, but they worked for EA so what did they expect? loyalty? hahahahaha EA shafts every1 apart from the suits that run it. I hate you EA.

pewens
pewens

EA working on a marvel fighting game? Oh god, somebody hold me I'm scared.. Capcom.. are you there... please help us!!! Sorry!! While it's always sad to hear people loosing jobs, maybe if EA didn't release generic rubbish and endless sequels every year they wouldn't need to fire people!

Salvo_78
Salvo_78

Oh NO, does that mean a new Crappy installment of Fight night isn't going to hit the shelves?. HAYMAKER! 1, 2, 3..... Knock OUT.

Casiotech
Casiotech

good, all those over paid programmer deserve to get laid off.

xboxps2cube
xboxps2cube

money talks... if you aint making the money.. you gone.

melante
melante

It makes sense from a biz perspective: they bought big high quality studios like BioWare and Pandemic and they are closing smaller ones

stfolife
stfolife

Great, more people out of jobs thanks to the ever so kind EA

alpha_company
alpha_company

thats a bummer, and yeah...the bigger thay are the harder they fall

K_M82
K_M82

Maybe they close these studios and fired people because of the 800 Million they pay for Bioware & Pandemic. EA has become to big. You know what they say: the bigger you are the harder you fall.

KamalR
KamalR

This is good news now the next Def Jam game won't be crap they ruined Def Jam with the FNR3 controls & the stupid interactive environment I just hope the next person who makes the new Def Jam game put the specials back in & remove the crappy FNR3 controls

polsci1503
polsci1503

playa: Personally I've been bashing EA for nearly a decade and so have many, many others. In fact, there has been so much EA bashing on GS for years that it's become a sad (but true) cliche. If you don't know why gamers who follow the industry would periodically talk trash regarding EA, then it's you who doesn't know what they are talking about. The sheep are the ones who blindly think EA is a great developer.

MrWu_IX
MrWu_IX

@playa: People have been bashing EA for years - especially back about 3 years ago when they were making a lot of bad games and had many employee complaints

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

This is sad but it seems like this is happening all over the US.It's as if these big billion dollar companies don't make the marginal profits that they have previously, or don't hit a + number, then it's time to layoff. I know thats how business works but I wish more of these big companies that can afford to take a loss here or there, would give its employees a little more time to fix the issue. I was reading in the paper that analyst are predicting we are close to a recession and it seems like everywhere you look these big companies that are not hitting the big profits they are used to are laying off employees therefore increasing the unemployment rate.

MrWu_IX
MrWu_IX

STEALING MY AVATAR?! On a more serious note... This is really misfortunate. I do hope a new Fight Night will still come out at some point though

playa42018
playa42018

Is bashing EA the new cool thing to do? Kind of like how everyone bashes Microsoft, World of Warcraft, and Halo 3. Is being a successful corporation or a successful product bad PR with consumers? I'm sure over half of everyone that talks crap about the 4 above companies/games know nothing about those companies/games. People just love to be herded like sheep and love following whoever has the loudest mouth.

carlosgames
carlosgames

don't worry, this must have been done to open another studio in a cheaper country, China, Mexico, Europe, Argentina, Brasil.... all those have good engineers which can do good videogames with less regulations, (and less money :( is sad but is how companies work. )

Shadeofgood
Shadeofgood

I bet they are only closing because they are too hard on their employees. I do agree though, their games have not been any good and I was kind of disappointed to hear that they were making another Marvel Game. It isn't necessarily the talent that was the problem, its the philosophy of EA. If a game is bad, then they need to extend it like Nintendo or Epic would do. Plus they shouldn't have their employees working so hard to meet an unrealistic deadline.

gwilo007
gwilo007

Someone please sign Kudo Tsunoda.. hopefully a Third party publisher (like Ubi, or Activision) so every one can get/play his crazy/cool ideas

Vincent9mm
Vincent9mm

Dude... If Tecmo and Team Ninja took on the Marvel Fighting Game... OMFG, that would rock... And I apologize for the omfg.

prioritymail
prioritymail

ea has no idea how to treat their employees. there just in it for the money, not the games...

MrSickVisionz
MrSickVisionz

"well you know that new marvel fighting game will suck its gonna get all juggled around." No, it will suck because its not by Capcom, Sega, Namco or Tecmo. And shaking my head @ anyone who thinks Fight Night is a crappy game. Theres a difference between you hating a genre and a game being bad.

Vincent9mm
Vincent9mm

I like how everyone is assuming they are shutting down a studio that was making awesome games. Anyone remember Icon from a few months ago? Marvel Nemesis? I'll give you Fight Night Round 3 was amazing however... wasn't that a 2004 - 2005 game. If 2 years means they ruin every project they have since then they deserve to get shut down. I also will give you they have a few other studios that don't need to be around. Medal Of Honor has gone downhill extremly and the random trash like Boogie stopped selling a few weeks ago. Rock Band is very questionable right now in a retail stance. I'd much rather see EA get more quality out then another Icon or Marvel Nemesis. And what else have these guys released recently? 2011 sounds like a long time to wait for a good title.

Shadeofgood
Shadeofgood

Wow. I am actually shocked. I was just over there about a couple of months ago and I was going to ask for a job there. Glad I didn't get involved. I really got turned off working there when I understood that you have to work strenously, like close to 80 hours a week. I personally think that EA needs to change their gaming philosophy by a whole lot. If they are trying to rush games and be that strenous on their employees, of course you are going to get garbage so it is impossible to make anything profitable. Especially when you have real gamers such as us, who know the difference between good games and bad games. What would have worked if they try to produce less games at a time and focus on quality over quantity. I understand you have the EA Sports division who must bring out games every year, but I personally think, if it continues to be bad, then that division needs to take a break and focus on bringing games every two years. Either way this is harsh news to hear.

AzelKosMos
AzelKosMos

I wonder what it feels like for them to be the most hated gaming company in existence?

JohnDeadly
JohnDeadly

seriously the few times i saw kudo on gamespot i was always left with the feeling that i didn't want to buy anything he was selling.