Pandemic folded into EALA, Saboteur launch unaffected

[UPDATE] Approximately 200 staffers let go at Mercenaries developer; "core team" to relocate to Los Angeles studio to make Pandemic-branded games; founders departing.

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One week ago, Electronic Arts announced that it was laying off 17 percent of its staff, eliminating 1,500 jobs. At the time, the two studios that were reportedly hardest hit were EA Black Box, developer of Skate 3, and Mythic Entertainment, the shop behind the prophetically titled Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

Soon the developers of Mercenaries 2 will be guns-for-hire themselves.

Since then, rumors have percolated that EA's Los Angeles studio was also due for some cutbacks. However, today the Redwood City, California-based publisher made moves to shutter its other LA-area shop, Santa Monica, California-based Pandemic Studios, and merge its operations with those of EALA. Sources with knowledge of the closure confirmed it to GameSpot this morning, with EA vice president of corporate communications Jeff Brown explaining the closure shortly before noon.

"Today we informed employees at Pandemic that development on all the Pandemic franchises is being consolidated at EALA. As a result, we are eliminating roughly 200 positions at Pandemic," said Brown. "That said, EA is very committed to the Pandemic brand, and a core team of Pandemic developers will be developing existing franchises and other projects at EALA."

Brown also confirmed that among those departing are Pandemic founders Josh Resnick, Andrew Goldman, and Greg Borrud. He would not confirm the specific number of layoffs, but the Pandemic site lists its head count at 200 people--a number Brown said was inaccurate. The remaining Pandemic staffers will report to EALA head Sean Decker.

Pandemic's closure comes just over two years after EA announced it was buying the studio's parent company, BioWare/Pandemic, in an $860 million deal. Before then, the 200-person studio--founded in 1998--was best known for developing such titles as Full Spectrum Warrior, Star Wars: Battlefront, and Destroy All Humans!

Unfortunately, Pandemic's tenure inside EA has been less than successful. The company's first major post-buyout release, 2008's Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, was panned by critics, as was the shop's second effort, The Lord of the Rings: Conquest. This past January, EA reportedly cut ties with Pandemic's Australian satellite studio. Brown said Pandemic's next game, The Saboteur, was unaffected by the layoffs and is on track for its December 8 release on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.

Pandemic's closure is cruelly ironic, since the past two years have seen one half of the former "superdeveloper," BioWare, increase its influence inside EA by taking over the publisher's other role-playing game studios. The Edmonton, Alberta-based shop just released Dragon Age: Origins, 2009's best-reviewed RPG, and is readying two other high-profile titles, Mass Effect 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, for a 2010 launch.

EA has a history of acquiring hit developers, only to close them down at a later date. Most famously, the publisher picked up Command & Conquer developer Westwood Studios in 1998, only to shutter it in 2003 after the disappointing debut of its sci-fi role-playing game Earth & Beyond. In 1992, it acquired Ultima developer Origin Systems, which it closed down in 2004 following disappointing sales of Ultima IX.

Discussion

267 comments
suberbard
suberbard

they ruined mercenaries medal of honor fifa lool the sims simcity and every other game they get their hands on

suberbard
suberbard

mercenaries playground of destruction was a awesome game but EA ruined mers 2 i was sooo pissed when i got mercs 2

ztg360
ztg360

i personally really enjoy the saboteur and am currently playing as one of my main games why does it seem like the 2 biggest publishers (activision and EA) have to screw up a lot of good things in the interest of money if they kept things independent (referring to the developers) they would have a nice cash flow

KTfreak4Jesus2
KTfreak4Jesus2

This is like all they do. And because they do this there games suck. They suck because they don't have enough people to work on them. as you can see this is a very bad system to go by.

tommynooky
tommynooky

EA plans to take over the gaming industry if you ask me

Dynamo11
Dynamo11

Very sad, EA offered them complete financial security, only to shut them down themselves. Pandemic had such potential as a game developer!

Adam_the_Nerd
Adam_the_Nerd

There has to be a sort of conspiracy to gain Intellectual Properties going on. There's no way EA acquires these stellar developers only to shut them down and take their IPs after one or two unsuccessful releases. I acknowledge that a failing game this generation is a big financial hit, but if that's the case, then why are crappy games (like movie tie-ins, sequels to failures) continually spat out by developers? I fear for BioWare's future.

Dynamo11
Dynamo11

So wait.... no Battlefront III?!

ymarkman
ymarkman

Pandemic Studios used to be the bomb. They made Star Wars Battlefront, Mercenaries POD, Star Wars Battlefront II, but then they lost it with Mercenaries 2. And now The Saboteur is coming out, and I'm afraid to buy it. I like the presentation of the game world, with the different colors and things like that, but the way it looks to play is like Mercenaries 2 only a little polished up. I loved the first Mercs; that game was so much fun. But they did a real number on Star Wars Battlefront. The second one was very similar, but the first was an instant classic among my multiplayer games. I bid them a kind farewell, but they did kind of lose their talent.

havocmerc
havocmerc

zwhy doesn't EA just leave well enough alone? Rather than try to spend money buying up the competition and then putting everyone out of work, why don't they spent the same money to make better games.

master9000
master9000

It looks more like to me EA is up to its usual tricks again in shutting down another memorable studio they acquired just because they ain't raking in enough money for there damn shareholder's fatass pockets despite the new leaderships (cough *John Riccitiello* cough) promise to leave them alone and independent from such executive meddling... I was one of the people that was foaming at the month when I heard EA acquired Bioware/Pandemic and I knew it would eventually lead to this fate like they have done to others to at least one of these companies in the next 5+ years now I fear for Bioware as well after Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 comes out in the next couple of monthes and wonder if one of the few decent (and practically only decent CRPG maker in North America besides Obsidian/Black Isle Studios and Beth Soft) will also suffer a similar fate. Time like this I wish irony would come and EA itself blows up and I wouldn't bat and eyelash.

VXLbeast
VXLbeast

EA ruins everything they get their hands on! Poor Medal of Honor... Honestly, EA is one of the few games companies I could watch die and not care. These guys really know how to screw things up.

Yojimbo25
Yojimbo25

Another casuality of the economy or its the true face of EA? Perhaps we will never know, but what can't argued is that while Pandemic's track record is colorful, one must not forget that they have stumbled twice this generation with Mercs 2 and LOTR Conquest. I mean Haze killed Free Radical, in this day and age, it doesn't not really pay to make a bad game, with the way development costs are, because one bad game could potientally cause a development studio's demise.

darkcomedian
darkcomedian

@ melty3219 You obviously have no idea what you are talking about. If you dont like their games, dont buy them, they have families to feed too and when 200 people are let go, thats 200 people who will go hungry excluding their families. In short- this is not good news ever dumbass.

MERGATROYDER
MERGATROYDER

Mercenaries 2 was horrible. They tried too much to make it like Just Cause. Haze was alright and Killzone 1 was great. Calling something a "Halo Killer" does not help sell games. If they would have had better marketing, then sales would have soared.

MetallicFPSNut
MetallicFPSNut

The problem w/ Free Radical in particular seems to have been an insurmountable pile of hype surrounding Haze. I heard someone managed to get the "Halo Killer" tag circulating for it, which as we all know from Killzone 1 is a bad thing. And then Haze gets here after numerous delays and is just as, if not more, disappointing than Killzone and it winds up being unable to break a million copies. Add in all the problems around Star Wars Battlefront 3, and you have a recipe for a cave in due to lack of money flow. Pandemic also had a monstrous pile of hype surrounding Mercenaries 2, but when it got here it was a morass of boring gameplay and bugs, w/ a barren, overlarge open world to boot. Because of all of that, no one version of the game has yet broken a million copies. It's disappointing to see them go, but it also serves as a lesson about the dangers of overhyping games (even if gamers refuse to learn said lesson).

dewc1
dewc1

One of my all time favorite games, Star Wars Battlefront, was made by Pandemic. To this day, I play this game on my P.C. more than than any other. I also like Battlefront 2, but not as well due to the removal of my favorite maps. This is bad news for us gamers. Three of my favorite developers have folded in the past year (Pandemic, Factor 5, and Free Radical). As more of these companies fold, we will see less variety and selection of games. Soon, we will have only Call of Duty, Halo, and Mario games left to choose from. I, for one will really miss Pandemic as I have enjoyed many of their games going back to Clone Wars for the Gamecube. I wish them the best and hope some company sees the talent and picks them up.

JMizzle
JMizzle

I do feel sorry for them but on the other hand, I think the Pandemic which I loved for its Star Wars Battlefront games died a while ago. Shame.

Megamanx266
Megamanx266

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

@PhoenixHawk06: I apologise, EA did own Westwood and dropped the Westwood label in 2000. I was thinking of Hasbro dropping SSI, another great strategy publisher. Virgin only had the European licensing though and didn't own Westwood. As to no console conversion of C&C 4, only time will tell on that! After all, we have no base building to simplify the game, we have a roleplaying type of class system, that will simplify the strategy of the game, and finally, this is EA were talking about here. So I think the code has been written with future strategy games in mind that will come out on console but not under the C&C banner.

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

I was really hoping they would bring out Mercs 3. Personally, I really like the franchise. Ironically, it's one of the best helicopter flight games we have on consoles, LOL.

mkdoomfan2
mkdoomfan2

well maybe someone else can take the mercenaries liscence

kramer_inc
kramer_inc

Well that's 200 people with family's to feed I hope they can find work soon

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

@ Sirbobislost: Sorry but it's true, Rock,Paper, Scissors site had an interview with someone at EA and the editorial headline was 'The End of Single Player Gaming' if you want to Google it. There's another way to know it's true. Check when the next gen 'multiformat' market started (about 5-6 years ago) and check when the major publishers started dropping base building, supply lines and step-time play, and you'll find they coincide almost to the day! many negatives gamers talk about from shallow gaming to DRM to whatever, all started with that 'multiformat' beginning. Think about Oblivion and the $5 horse armour, or Oblivion versus Morrowind debates - and when was Oblivion released? Start of the multiformat market!

melty3219
melty3219

woohoo crap dev deserved to die!

jazilla
jazilla

@Inconnux While I would agree with you based on their past like you cited, none of the heads of those studios were placed in such high positions at EA like Dr. Ray and Dr. Greg of BioWare have been. They are now both controlling officers at EA itself as well as the ones who run BioWare/Mythic as well as other stuff. In this case yeah, I would say I don't believe you. And for good reason.

bennae66
bennae66

-on that note though, i never really cared much for pandemic. sorry guys

bennae66
bennae66

i hate ea. i hate what theyve done to bioware (load in logon screen on 360 and use to access extras and downloadables - isnt that what live is for?? yes, lets allr egister with ea and update our progress in the game on the network... ) i play games on console despite having a good pc to avoid crap like this. if ea butchers bioware any further i think i will have to take up premeditated murder as a hobby

PhoenixHawk06
PhoenixHawk06

@ humorguy_basic @ Sirbobislost C&C4 isn't even planned for consoles, and I have no idea where you got the Hasbro thing from. Westwood was owned by Virgin Interactive from 1992 until it's sale to EA in 1998. Westwood released several games while a subsidiary of EA, starting with Tiberian Sun and ending with C&C Renegade.

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

@ humorguy_basic "no base building to make console compatible" I sincerely hope your f****** joking screw the consoles if they want play a decent RTS go get a PC and play it how it's suposed to be played....... And I thought CnC3 and RDalrt3 were bad enough now they are removing the best part....... GRTZ ea and your wondering why you've got money problems when you let this kinda crap happen....... Well all I can say is long live supreme commander! Well shame about the job losses but I heard activisions new studio is hiring so dust those CVs off

sleepnsurf
sleepnsurf

Mercenaries sucked bad. But yea sorry about the job loss.

Inconnux
Inconnux

the list of great studios that EA has purchased and then driven into the ground has grown again. Don't think Bioware is next? perhaps not soon, but with EA's falling profits they will soon push Bioware to increase production at the cost of quality... don't believe me? Bullfrog, Westwood studios, Maxis, Blackbox, Mythic, Origin, and now Pandemic...

Bortson
Bortson

Mercenaries 2 was terrible compared to the first one which was epic. Sucks people are losing their job but blame has to be placed with management who oversaw the planning and personel decisions.

Talk2Luke
Talk2Luke

It's a pity that anybody has to lose their jobs, but for a large company, letting go staff that haven't been performing as well recently is always a good move. If the people that have been let go are talented, then they'll be able to get jobs elsewhere at some point.

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

the quality of their games went right down the toilet the last few years. Sad, but without good sales you can't keep a studio alive. The Mercenaries series should just die with part 2. Full Spectrum Warrior, however, could be awesome if reimagined on the current consoles.

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

"EA has a history of acquiring hit developers, only to close them down at a later date.".... yeah, and no other big studios EVER do that... *rolls eyes*

Azurathe
Azurathe

So, EA closes a studio. Don't really care as I have never played one of their games anyways. I figure that if the studio had any talented people, they won't find it difficult to get a new job at a different studio or go on to form a new one outright.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

Hasbro the toy company, back in the 90's bought Westwood. They then closed Westwood. EA bought the C&C rights. Other than the Westwood C&C's look at how later C&C's were. The latest C&C for example, will have no base building, to make it 'console compatible'. Whether it's Pandemic, Maxis or Westwood, you fold these small companies into multi-national corporations and the quality and intelligence of the games go down. I am scared for the future of gaming. A future where Borderlands is seen as a deep and sophisticated RPG and Left for Dead a long and involved original shooter! Despair abounds.

system3142
system3142

Mercenaries 2 was beaten by Red Faction: Guerrilla. Both games were kind of trying to do the same thing, except Red Faction's physics really made the sandbox come alive.

Makhdoom82
Makhdoom82

Mercenaries 2 wasn't a bad game but it was kind of a potential game wasted.

Sniper
Sniper

After Mercenaries 2, Pandemic people deserve to lose their pay checks. I spent my money on that broken game, only to read in the official Pandemic forum that customers who wanted Mercenaries to be fixed, were dismissed by the company as merely "part of a vocal minority." Adding insult to injury is a good way to earn bad karma.

nate1222
nate1222

@gamer082009 and bizuit Both of you are right AND wrong. What caused the recession and jobless rate was the outsourcing of U.S. jobs. Bush aided in that scenerio by giving tax breaks to companies that sent U.S. jobs (manufacturing and programing) over seas. As far as the mortgage-meltdown, I don't blame Bush for that. I blame gentrification and "flippers". Flippers will buy a home just to sell it. Then the next flipper does the same. With each sale, the house's cost goes up bringing up property value and therefor taxes with it. This causes an entire neighborhood's property tax, rent, mortgages, insurance to go up with it. After a while, an ENTIRE neighborhood is UNaffordable. Gentrification (buying low, raising value) has the same effect. Bush giving tax breaks to companies that outsource our jobs and blowing $400 billion on an unneccessary war (Iraq) definately added to the problem. But he wasn't the sole reason for it.

centuryslayer
centuryslayer

god, I hate EA. don't you DARE to touch Bioware's staff :

Rikuide_Furame
Rikuide_Furame

BioWare are safe, for the time being, as their games are popular and sell well. Should their sales start to decline though, we could well see the ugly side of EA rear its head again.