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Report: EA Black Box Lays Off Majority of Staff
Report: EA Black Box Lays Off Majority of Staff Exclusive
January 22, 2009 | By Chris Remo

January 22, 2009 | By Chris Remo
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    11 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



Vancouver-based studio EA Black Box today laid off the majority of its staff, multiple development sources close to the situation have informed Gamasutra.

Upwards of 200 of the Electronic Arts-owned development house are said to have been let go; the company's website pegs its total size as over 350.

Other employees are said to have been given the opportunity to relocate elsewhere within EA.

The move is part of an ongoing effort on the part of the global publisher to reduce company-wide staff size by about 10 percent. Last month, an EA statement indicated that Black Box's teams and projects would be folded into EA's nearby Burnaby studio.

This week, Black Box shipped Skate 2 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The original Skate, released in 2007, was notable for its strong success, both commercial and critical, relative to the skateboarding genre's longtime leader, Activision's Tony Hawk franchise.

The studio is also known for having handled the Need for Speed racing games since 2002; the series has been declining in popularity over the last several years.

Black Box Games was acquired by EA in 2002, becoming an independent studio within EA in 2005.


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Comments


Damoun Shabestari
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Need for Speed....I hope you are not gone for good. BlackBox did shovel out too many NFS's in a short amount of time. Trying out to new things with the franchise that did not really catch on. That, and the fact that the competition grew. Midnight Club, PGR, Rally Racing games, etc. Wish all the luck to those who lost their jobs.

Alan Rimkeit
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:(

Robert Memmott
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That's horrible. So many good people losing their jobs. On a side note, the comments on these things are a lot less engaging then they where when the anonymous commenting was on.

Alan Rimkeit
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I just read that they just released Skate 2. I see commercials for that game all over the TV going on and on about how super awesomely cool it is. What the hell? These men and women make a game that gets 9-10's in terms of a score and then they get laid off. Why? Why EA? What is the deal?

Reid Kimball
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Alan,



The unfortunate reality is that it's much more economical for the industry to fire people after a project ships. Instead they should be hiring people as contractors per project, think what they do in Hollywood. But of course that model isn't perfect either because game projects are not centralized in one area. Throughout my short career, I've worked for three different companies in three different states.



Here's hoping good opportunities for the people let go.

Richard Benson
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Very sad news.



However, YAY for disabling anonymous posts! It always bugged me when people had to log in to post and then posted anonymously.

Lorenzo Wang
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Alan, score != revenue != profit. :(

mr jasler
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what is more sad is that the Producers and DD's who were responsible for all the problems with NFS the past few years were not laid off.



I have friends who were laid off today and they confirmed this.. The Producers and DD's who are the problem at blackbox decided that they should keep their jobs even though they messed the studio up... it had to be predicted though right.. I mean EA is all about UpperManagement looking out for itself.

Mike Doyle
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It is unfortunate that so many of the Black Box staff were let go, especially after releasing such a fine game in Skate 2. From what I had heard from the initial report back around Christmas was that EA would be shutting down the separate Black Box studio in downtown Vancouver, BC, yet keep the staff and Black Box studio alive and running from the large Burnaby, BC EA Canada location.

Apparently this was not the case, as is noted today in the large amount of layoffs. I think this might have a lot to do with the previously rumored cancellation (at least from yearly iteration) of the Need for Speed series. Since Black Box had two very large teams working concurrently on entries in that series, those employees would add up to a large chunk of the 200 let go.

I actually know somebody who was let go back in December, before the big cuts hit. He has already found work at another local game studio, so here is hoping the rest of those laid off will land on their feet just as quickly.

Emmanuel Henne
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Oh boy, 350 people in my opinion is massively over the top anyway.I mean if You look at Little Big Planet's development team size (a reported 30+), I seriously doubt that 350 people can be considered cost/value adequate...

Barry Barrington
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First I would like to say good luck to all those that got the perverbial Axe.



And secondly I would like to say that I hope EA doesn't completely abandon the NFS series. As a consumer I have to say that the last few games seemed rushed. Most of us would have been very happy to wait an extra year for a better game. What I mean is, for example the latest addition to the series, NFS UnderCover had an excellent physics engine. But, the map was a messed up version of the NFS Most Wanted map, the story line was weak at best, and there were way too many glitches.



I can't help but wonder how much better that game would have been, if the people working on it were given another 6 months to a year to complete it. I think it could have been their best yet. But instead it was a disappointment.



I apologize if that was a bit rant-ish, and once again, Good Fortune to all those that lost their jobs


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