Electronic Arts' "workforce reduction" to axe 117 jobs

SEC filing reveals cuts resulting from publisher's developer consolidation; EA reps talk up a "net gain" in staff.

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When Electronic Arts announced plans to consolidate development at its Redwood Shores, California, headquarters, it indicated staff cuts would be part of the reorganization.

On Friday, the publisher revealed how big the actual cuts would be in a 10-K form it filed with the SEC. Under the heading "Fiscal 2004 Studio Restructuring," the publisher talked about its "exit plans" following the closure of its Origin studio in Austin, Texas, and the relocation of the majority of its staffers from the Walnut Creek, California-based The Sims 2-maker Maxis. "The exit plans resulted in a workforce reduction of approximately 117 personnel in development and administrative departments," read the report, "the majority of whom are expected to be terminated in the first quarter of fiscal [year] 2005."

However, when contacted by GameSpot, EA spokesman Jeff Brown denied that the job cuts were mainly the result of layoffs. "To call the 117 [job cuts] 'layoffs' is very misleading," he said. "That 117 that you are looking at is our estimation of the number of people who will opt for severance packages as opposed to moving to the Redwood Shores location." However, he did concede that not all of the severance packages would be voluntarily offered. "I can't tell you every single employee got an offer, but a high 90 percentile of employees were offered jobs and, in some cases, relocation to Redwood Shores."

Brown also went one step further, predicting that EA will actually be increasing its payroll during its 2005 fiscal year, which began April 1, 2004. "The number of people who we estimate would take severance packages is offset by what we forecast will be a net increase in studio jobs by the end of the year," he told GameSpot.

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