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EA Memo Confirms Pandemic Consolidation, Van Caneghem Hire
EA Memo Confirms Pandemic Consolidation, Van Caneghem Hire Exclusive
November 17, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

November 17, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
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    15 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



Mercenaries developer Pandemic is to close its physical doors in Westwood, with a core IP team consolidated into Electronic Arts' EA Los Angeles studio -- although its brand and franchises will continue.

According to an internal memo obtained by Gamasutra, Pandemic founders Josh Resnick, Andrew Goldman, and Greg Borrud will leave the company. "A reduction in the work force at Pandemic" is being reported elsewhere at around 200 employees, with the remainder of the Pandemic team reporting to EALA's Sean Decker at the company's Playa Vista offices.

The cuts are part of a new round of layoffs and restructuring EA recently announced as its second fiscal quarter saw its losses widen to $391 million; the publisher plans to cut 1,500 jobs by April 2010.

EA says the studio consolidation is intended to "accelerate our transformation to a direct-to-consumer digital model, and to better manage our cost structure."

Under the new model, EALA will become a "showcase for the 'fewer things better'" initiative, the memo continues, describing a "a re-invention of the Medal of Honor franchise with a new design that is simply stunning."

It's also noted that Might and Magic creator Jon Van Caneghem, who recently "transitioned out" of his role as president of Trion World Networks, has joined EA to lead the Command and Conquer brand with "a new digital model that is going to re-ignite the fan base for this franchise."

"I want to make it clear that the Pandemic brand and franchises will live on," writes EA SVP Nick Earl in the internal memo. "In the months ahead, we will announce plans for new games based on Pandemic franchises."

Electronic Arts acquired Pandemic in October 2007, as part of its roughly $800 million acquisition of parent company VG Holding Corp, netting BioWare in the same deal.

Pandemic has been a frequent target of closure rumors since the first round of deep staff cuts and restructuring hit EA studios last year. It has been developing Saboteur, the World War II title on whose status EA has remained largely quiet in recent months, but is apparently due out on December 8th.

Similarly, EALA has also faced media scrutiny since the cancellation of its Tiberium project due to quality issues; its Medal of Honor: Airborne was also a high-profile disappointment. EA Games boss Frank Gibeau told Gamasutra late last year that the publisher has "high expectations" from the studio.


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Comments


Jeff Zugale
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Best of luck to all those laid off... many friends there. :

Eric Adams
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Best of luck to all the talented developers looking for work. Wasn't Pandemic on a strong success trajectory before the EA acquisition?

Fiore Iantosca
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I will continue to say what I have been saying all along, EA SUCKS!!!!



@Eric - of course they were a success, that's why EA purchased them. EA loves killing competition by buying them. Microsoft did it years ago.



EA is a corporate PIMP

Ben Hopper
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Yeah, I agree. EA sucks. They acquire developers, then close them down. Their stockholders make money while working people lose their jobs.

Rick Reynolds
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Grats to the very talented JVC on his new adventure.

Tim Ullrich
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Re: Ben Hopper - That's an overly simplistic statement and one that does not really hold up. Stockholders make more money if EA makes and sells better games. I'm not championing EA's actions here because I don't know all the details but your populist opinion is kind of silly. In any event, sucks to lose a job at any point but particularly with the holiday's right around the corner. Good luck former and current Pandemic employees.

gus one
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The games industry seems to be morphing into the film industry Ė where new ideas / concepts are cast aside for proven titles. Witness Activision Blizzard (I am a Buyer) and the way it leverages off what is only a few but incredibly successful brands CoD, GH, Warcraft etc. Granted the gamer is getting less choice but then he canít complain that no one is creating new games when he is still buying CoD MW14 five years from now. In the meantime ATVI makes a mint churning out follow ups to the numb and mindless. The ATVI numbers are astounding when you start to dig into the financials. What has really worked is not pumping out loads of random titles many of which donít ever return a ROI Ė those bad old days have gone now the credit markets have slammed shut. You want to test it? Try ringing your bank for a loan to get a new boiler and see how hard that is let alone asking for $1 million to invest in a new game concept.



So I was interested when Electronic Arts finally announced a similar strategy recently. They are canning a load of games in various stages of development and will in future be concentrating on its successful franchises Ė Need for Speed / EA Sports / Battlefield/ MoH etc. Whilst itís bad news for the 1,500 EA employees given the bullet it clearly proves the future of the industry is in leveraging off successful brands and on as many platforms as possible. So less games for all but maybe thereís a positive in that the indie games sector will grow instead. That idea a greasy oik has that EA might have once bought in the good Ďol days will now have to make its own way to market. At least there are now some relatively pain free routes to market via digital download like Steam.

Eric Adams
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I think it really boils to risk and bottom-line management. Since AAA targeted console games are so expensive to create (development and marketing), publishers and their shareholders expect at least games to recoup their costs. Interesting, I wonder if the 'state of the play' for development studios is that any failure to return a profit on a project runs the risk of the studio being closed/consolidated. I believe in the past studios could endure a couple of strikes (or ground outs), but in the today's bottom line management, any strike (failed game) could shut your company or studio down.

Christopher Plummer
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Did EA buy Pandemic because they wanted them? Or because they had to in order to not lose out on Bioware? I always thought it was the latter.



I don't know the circumstances behind it, but Battle for Middle Earth did very little to help their case. That game was in the wrong generation.

sukru tikves
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They tried to stop milking, and push new ideas to the market, and they failed. I really enjoyed dead space, but the others (especially mirror's edge) were bit let downs.



They lost lots of money, and realized going with strong franchises is better. It will be good for their baseline, but very bad for the industry.

sukru tikves
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They tried to stop milking, and push new ideas to the market, and they failed. I really enjoyed dead space, but the others (especially mirror's edge) were bit let downs.



They lost lots of money, and realized going with strong franchises is better. It will be good for their baseline, but very bad for the industry.

Cameron Christian
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I never post but I had too for this one,



For everyone in this thread who doesnít have a clue. Pandemic was doomed before the E.A. buy out. Second John R sold himself his own company with no plan to keep Pandemic open. He was partners in an Investment Company VG holding who bought out Pandemic and Bioware in 2005-6 for somewhere in the 300-400 million. He then got hired back to EA as CEO in 2007, and then convinced shareholders to buy out VG holdings, ala Pandemic and Bioware for 800 million.



Also business wise itís not profitable to have Pandemic studio and EALA studio open, and pay 2 HUGE rents. Close one and integrate, simple.



John R. is my favorite business man. :)



Found this after my posting.

http://www.marketrap.com/article/view_article/91171/outrageous-el
ectronic-arts-inc-ceo-riccitello-buys-his-own-company-and-closes-
it-down-two-years-later

Jon Jones
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From my own experience this studio was shady from the start when I applied for a job. I went through all the regular testing and did the phone interview. Everything appeared to be going my way when they told me that they would call me back to schedule an in face interview. Two weeks passed and I hadn't heard anything. Out of the blue two of my friends call me to tell me that Pandemic called them and offered them positions. The best part is both guys were on my resume as references and neither of them had ever applied to Pandemic. Pandemic shopped my references and never returned my inquiries into the position. May not of helped that one friend gave them a good verbal lashing for offering him a job when he knew that they got his info from my resume.

David Crain
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The Pandemic closure is terrible news for LA-based game development, already decimated over more than a year by closures, consolidations & hiring freezes. While Bay Area, Seattle and Vancouver studios have rebounded and are struggling to hire talent, LA studios still have little to offer. I can count programmer opportunities in LA over the last 6 month's on this site's jobs page on one hand. Occasionally the area's most successful AAA's have an opening, often not even advertised, but of course they cherry-pick wunderkind from around the world. So now Pandemic's workforce gets dumped into the area's unemployment pool... I hope most are unmarried renters that are easily able to relocate -- for their sakes and mine.

Fire Hose
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For those affected by the layoffs at EA, Fire Hose is hiring! Check out www.firehosegames.com/jobs for more information - we'd love to have you join the team!


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