EA consolidates studios, closes Westwood

The publisher reveals plans for a large new studio in Los Angeles, bringing together the Medal of Honor and C&C: Generals teams, plus staff from Westwood's closing Las Vegas location.

As a part of its quarterly earnings report, Electronic Arts has announced that it is consolidating its Los Angeles, Irvine, and Las Vegas studios to form a new campus in Los Angeles. The move involves significant layoffs at Westwood's Las Vegas studio, which employed more than 100 people, although EA spokesman Jeff Brown said that many are eligible for transfers to Los Angeles or to EA's headquarters in Redwood Shores, California. Brown couldn't specify the number of layoffs, due to pending transfer offers. The new Los Angeles campus will open late this summer and will house around 200 developers.

EA has definite plans to continue supporting and creating new content for Earth & Beyond, despite the closure of the Westwood studio. The game's support staff will now be concentrated in Redwood Shores. While the fact that Westwood didn't have any new development projects was a major factor in the decision to close the studio, Brown confirmed that EA has "an active plan for more games in the Command & Conquer franchise." Westwood founder Louis Castle is the only member of the studio who was confirmed to be moving to Los Angeles, but other senior team members who have been deeply involved with the series are also expected to continue working on it in the new location. The last day for many Westwood employees will be this Friday, but a transitional staff will stay on until the studio's final closure on March 31.

Contrary to early reports, virtually the entire EA Pacific team, currently located in Irvine, California, will be continuing on and moving to the new Los Angeles campus. Earlier today, before the consolidation announcement, EA Pacific's Mark Skaggs told GameSpot that the studio has strong growth plans and has a couple of projects lined up, including an expansion pack for Generals.

EA's current Los Angeles studio is made up of the team that created the Medal of Honor console games. The Medal of Honor franchise started out at DreamWorks Interactive, which EA later acquired. The consolidation will allow the team to move out of its current location in the DreamWorks building.

There are big plans for the new Los Angeles studio. Planning for the new campus has been under way for several months, and while an exact location has not yet been finalized, it is certain that it will be within driving distance of the motion-picture studios. The studio will start out with 200 developers and support staff members from the three existing studios, and there are plans to hire an additional 300 developers over the next two or three years, which will make it the second largest EA location in the world after Redwood Shores. Brown said that it will be much larger than other Los Angeles game studios, and will likely have more creative personnel than any motion-picture studio.

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