Officials from Electronic Arts have confirmed that the company is closing its only Japanese development studio, ahead of the release of Theme Park DS
Speaking to Gamasutra, EA spokesperson Tiffany Steckler indicted that the company had decided to "consolidate its development teams in Japan". The company will continue to publish using external Japanese developers via the EA Partners scheme, but will no longer operate an internal development studio in the country, according to an official statement.
Although the largest third party publisher by far in the West, Electronic Arts only has a limited publishing presence in Japan, with its games making only rare appearances in the country's sales charts.
The company currently has two other titles in development with Japanese studios, in addition to Theme Park DS
, in the form of SimCity DS
and manga license Dragon Zakura DS
- the only one of the three titles aimed solely at the Japanese market. Though Wii title My Sims
(also recently confirmed for DS) uses a Japanese design ethic and is aimed significantly at the Japanese audience, it is being developed internally by Electronic Arts in North America.
The story of the studio's closure was first reported by
consumer website 1UP.com, and suggested that an estimated twenty employees have been let go. The Japanese studio was established three years ago but the still unreleased Theme Park DS
- a port of the original Bullfrog PC game - has been the studio's only game.
1UP quotes an anonymous source as saying, "When we were developing for the Xbox 360 and PS3 and things weren't going smoothly, I had my worries - but ever since we switched our focus to the Nintendo DS, things seemed to be going well... I think this closure is also as a result of the Japanese market not being as exciting compared to the possibilities for growth in China and other parts of Asia".