The game-o-sphere is all a flurry about the big layoffs at Electronic Arts at the moment.
With 1500 job being dumped at EA, including 80 at Mythic which is a bit less than half their staff, you’d be forgiven for thinking that EA is in financial difficulty. And you’d be right as this year their revenue has declined by something like 20 percent.
There aren’t too many business that wouldn’t lay off some staff under those kind of circumstances.
Still, EA hasn’t really got that great a reputation for employee management. Even in the best of times they tend to work them like dogs, and then dump them when projects fail, and sometimes even when they are successfully completed. So it’s no surprise that the same happens when times are tough.
1500 employees though. That’s a lot, and considering many of those would be the creatives. The people who make the games, there may not be as many in-house games being developed by EA over the next few years.
Which could be a silver lining in all this. EA is certainly going to want to sell as many games as it can, so we can expect it to go outside to get them. This could be a good time for non-affiliate game developers (I’m not talking small indie developers here) to develop their own IP and look to EA to do the publishing. This may even lead to us seeing some break-the-mould games appearing somewhere down the track.
The Mythic layoffs are concerning though. With many of their development staff layed off, it’s hard to see how they are going to do more than just maintain Warhammer Online. It’s entirely possible all we’ll see from now on are patches and minor content updates. New expansions, difficult to see them happening with such a heavily reduced staff.
I’m even going to go so far as suggest that Warhammer might now be on life support with the hand of the EA board hovering over the switch.
I think it also shows that these internal teams are regarded by EA as only as good as (the board of directors perception of) their last game. If Mythic, a popular and successful developer, can be gutted because Warhammer didn’t meet expectations, then perhaps no team is safe.
I’m sure the Bioware team is completely aware of that little fact.