I’d like to say that this news shocks me, but unfortunately, it doesn’t… EA announced today that it was laying off 350 people, which amounts to 4% of their workforce. Given that early indications of Anthem, a tedious and threadbare game which had a bug that accidentally made it fun for a few days, under-performed, and EA has little else in the way of new ideas… I suppose this event was a given.
“We have a vision to be the World’s Greatest Games Company,” [EA boss Andrew Wilson ] wrote. “If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re not there right now. We have work to do with our games, our player relationships, and our business.”
Not-so-hot take: it’s impossible to be the world’s greatest games company when your business is actively hostile to your player base and their wallets.
I mean, it sort of makes sense, given that EA multiple-year-winner for worst company in America, they just had a “disappointing” quarter where they only made $1 billion dollars, they have a CEO who gets a compensation package of around $36 million per year (and the rest of the executive team make a hefty chunk as well), and people aren’t enjoying enough Pride & Accomplishment with loot boxes to keep the bonuses rolling. </sarcasm>
Sure, maybe some of this is normal structural stuff… they use winding down operations in Japan and Russia as a reason, but name teams like Marketing, Publishing, Operations, and “other areas” that are likely right here in the US. Most of them had nothing to do with EA missing an arbitrary target (and remember, they made a big profit last quarter, saw growth, and were by any reasonable measure wildly successful… just not in the nonsense modern finance world)… but they’re out of a job anyway. It also is the kind of move we’ve seen a lot, eliminating the people behind the scenes that make a game successful (given how awful EA’s support already is, they can’t afford to lose anyone).
I’ve talked about this with people in chat, at work, or just other game fans in general… but eventually, I’m going to have to reconcile the fact that I like a lot of the big, flowing games… but at the same time the companies that are responsible for making and publishing them are simply horrible. EA hasn’t made a great game in years intentionally (a lot of people seem to like Apex Legends… BR isn’t for me… but it “shocked” EA at its reception after they mostly ignored Respawn while they made it), and there’s nothing on the horizon to give any hope that it will change.
Great games will continue to be at the core of everything we do, and we are thinking differently about how to amaze and inspire our players.
For better or worse, they have the Star Wars license, and it’s fairly unlikely that we’re going to get a good game from them anytime soon. Maybe Fallen Order will come along and wow us all, but I don’t know if EA even knows how to make a game without ludicrous micro-transactions and purposefully-crippled gameplay to support monetization.