EA's Canadian studios hit by layoffs - Report

EA Canada, Black Box reportedly see NBA Elite, Skate development teams cut; up to 100 may have been pink-slipped; EA admits "season roll-offs" of payroll.


Today was apparently a dark day at Electronic Arts' two Vancouver-based studios. According to a Shacknews report, both EA Canada and EA Black Box have been hit by layoffs. Specifically, the teams behind the Skate franchise and the long-delayed NBA Elite 11 were both hit, with sources saying "as many as 100 employees" were sent packing.

EA's Canadian workforce may have been downsized today.
EA's Canadian workforce may have been downsized today.

When contacted by GameSpot, an EA spokesperson would only confirm there had been layoffs today but would not say at which studios or give a number of staff reductions.

"As you know, seasonal roll-offs that follow game launches are common and vital to maintaining a healthy business," the rep said. "Because so many of our games ship in the holiday quarter, the team size adjustments tend to follow in the same time frame. However EA is growing, and several of our studios are looking to hire talented people."

If Black Box was involved, the layoffs would be just the latest in a round of cuts at the developer. In December 2008, the studio was "consolidated" into EA Canada after EA shut down the studio's satellite campus. It was hit again by layoffs just a month later in January 2009 as part of a series of wider payroll cuts across the EA internal studio structure.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 33 comments about this story
33 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for buying1999

Well you lose money when you started developing software with S3HDWii as the lead. You get massive investment in both time and money and very little return when compared to developing on the 360 (who's owners actually buy 360's for games and not for watching movies.) Then you have to make it up somewhere so layoffs were the logical choice.

Avatar image for Tarex

There is some genius in how this is being worded in the press. It calls out 3rd year in a row in the headlines. For those less aware, a business can do two significant annual down sizes before there is an expected recovery. In this instance your looking at the 3rd, a loud message that the highest levels of management are failing. This tends to lead to a major management overhaul at the highest levels. On top of this they posted a profitable quarter... So they are trying to guise this as a seasonal situation... How many other companies would say this? It's screams there is no job security here. So the press is having fun with this. What we are witnessing is a giant fall in slow motion, EA has to downsize to adjust to the industry. If the industry looses 20% EA needs to loose twice that as they are about 35% of the industry... Not 35% of the games, there are a lot of other factors, do some home work. Simple lesson here is keep looking if your a game developer... EA will still offer you lots of money but it better be double what you make if your going to survive the inevitable down time that will come... No one at EA is safe, not even VP's...

Avatar image for ohjtbehaaave

First of all, no way ANY other hoops game was touching NBA 2K11 this year. EA knew this and pulled Elite back to the drawing board. EA's real critical blunder here is taking NBA Elite away from EA Canada which is responsible for probably the BEST sports game ever made in NHL 11... and giving 'Elite' to the total underachieving and very mediocre Tiburon team which can barely do anything interesting with Madden from year to year. Tiburon = Reheats and Gimmicks. EA Canada = Actual gameplay Innovations. One thing is guaranteed now with Elite being developed by Tiburon... it will be just another average sports game... if it ever comes out. NBA 2K11 is a BEAST right now!

Avatar image for Pyerun

Hopefully EA fired the right people, and not just the ones they felt are making too much money, as they usually do. Get rid of the entire marketing department. Who else do you think is responsible for running focus groups so that new games only get 1 or 2 new features from last year's version?

Avatar image for deactivated-58efa6701f504

@ BlackBaldwin "gamers wonder why their games are starting to stink of late" I am curious about the word "their". It is used to express possession... or is it a grammatical error? And for curiosity's sake... How did big business become big business? Would you agree that they were and are successful only due to the nature of the targeted consumer?

Avatar image for BlackBaldwin

gamers wonder why their games are starting to stink of late. Its due to big business kicking out the little people that could make a product great if giving enough breathing room to do it. True as rain I hope the employees affected find better jobs somewhere out there.

Avatar image for deactivated-58efa6701f504

Oh and if anyone is in alignment with my opinion or curious about what I have written... take the time to read this very informative pdf. << LINK REMOVED >>

Avatar image for deactivated-58efa6701f504

Is it the developers or producers fault on that they deal in contracts. When you look at Hollywood, do you stay with your production company... no. One difficulty, is the gaming schools. How they portray the employment market and the the truth (As well, the mis-information as from what many of these editorials are). Once we get students focused on a diverse education, we will once again see a rise in employee retention and quality of games. It's not the economic factor... it's the lie's we accept as truths.

Avatar image for misterstatus

I don't know why anyone would want to be a game developer these days (except of course for the coolness factor). You'll end up spending your life jumping from one temporary job to the next, and that's if your lucky. The game industry has never been more obviously about money than it is today, and no one's more expendable once a game is completed than the people who made it.

Avatar image for VarietyMage

Typical of EA. "We're done programming this game, so we don't need you anymore. We'll call you if we're picked up for another seas...er, game." And the big guys get the big bucks again at the expense of the little guys. *SIGH* You know, on second thought, this is the kind of behavior people exhibit when looking for prostitutes. Use them, pay them, then throw them away. *insert morality comment here*

Avatar image for Pete5506

ouch not good to news to hear

Avatar image for charlie_bm

When was the business so good that studios could afford so many employes?

Avatar image for thisranks

Not surprising at all. I'm surprised it isn't happening at a quicker rate with more developers.

Avatar image for m7oda10

pretty sad news.......pathetic from EA seriously the title made think it was bioware that would have been even more stupid from EA

Avatar image for Mohjong

Apple with $50 billions to spare might as well as buy EA instead of Sony. I can see a 3D-O in the near future when people jumping on the 3D bandwagon.

Avatar image for chesed

Please don't touch the NHL development team. I will cry.

Avatar image for Hellbishop

In this bad economy consumers dont have the money to spend on half done shoddy products or the precious time while making ends meet to attempt to fix the games they purchased with mods and DLCs. They just wanna buy and play a complete quality product before getting back into the work day grind of working one or more jobs to pay the bills during these harsh financial times. Wouldnt surprise me if alot of successful game companies start getting a wake up call this following year as people are spending less on a product which no longer delievers a sure thing like it used to. I guess thats a good thing for the other areas of the entertainment industry.

Avatar image for Barighm

OMG OMG not Bioware! ...wait, Bioware isn't one of the studios? Then who cares?

Avatar image for TheTrueMarik

As much as I feel bad for the Canadian workers layed off, I have to say, EA had it coming. Their games seem to be getting poorer and poorer in quality, personally don't think any of their games are worth purchasing anymore. NHL, usually a game that's a must buy for me I would turn to EA being just slightly better than 2k's offering the past few years, this year isnt even worth the 80 bucks I spent, and they dont even have competition. Pathetic. Not even going to get started on the other bad games they have released lately.

Avatar image for roams


Avatar image for P90E21

Man our gen is screwed in this new age.

Avatar image for ANTHONYMVP2U

i luv it...

Avatar image for godzillavskong

Well I bet the CEOs or execs didn't take a pay cut. I know there will be layoffs, but I truly believe that the higher up should be the ones to take a slight pay cut before letting so many people go. They hit a 60 million dollar profit this year, but they hit a 70 million last year, so 10 million under last year. So what do they do? They layoff about %10 of their payroll to make up the difference. Ouch! They still made a huge profit but investors don't like to see those stocks fall. Sad world really.

Avatar image for sonic_spark

Before people jump over all EA but look at the games getting layoffs. NBA Elite and Skate. Games that are very limited in sales and get put on the back burner behind other titles. It's unfortunate but I agree, it kind of goes with the industry.

Avatar image for karmasbeeoch

EA= rich, greedy, pathetic. Why do companies always layoff when profits are soaring? I guess their Ceo needs another 200ft yacht and 200 houses all at 10,000 sq ft.

Avatar image for thelostkin

at least this isn't as bad as San Diego's Rockstar studio layoff percentage which was just ridiculous

Avatar image for sircyrus

Translation: If you work for EA, don't expect to keep your job after finishing a game that will make them millions. They will replace you with someone less experienced who will be willing to work for lower pay.

Avatar image for Crashbox45

It was bound to happen. With the indefinite delay of NBA Elite 11, it's safe to say things are now going downhill for EA Canada.

Avatar image for robertgkarcher1

EA's solution to declining profits (aka people taking a stand and refusing to buy their garbage games): 1. Cut costs by downsizing their studios 2. Charge full price 69.99 for games as much as possible. 3. Charge for crappy DLC that should be inclued in the first place 4. Buy up hot independent studios and downsize the hell out of them and release crappy sequels based of the hype of the first game. 5. Milk their cashcows like madden and nhl by putting out the same game every year with small improvements. ... ... 100. Make better games?

Avatar image for triple_b2k

Pretty bad news for EA's largest studio. Still lots of people working there though.

Avatar image for tainted_lynx

This is why EA's stock is so depressed now - because they do not put out new games with any sense of value. Charging 60-65 bucks for garbage? Terrible.

Avatar image for Heshertonfist


Avatar image for Marsz85

Should have been EA L.A. aka Danger Close