California-based video game maker Electronic Arts will lay off 350 employees today, following an announcement from CEO Andrew Wilson. Wilson said the layoffs will primarily impact EA’s marketing, publishing, and operations teams, and the company will scale back its staff in Japan and Russia.
“These are important but very hard decisions, and we do not take them lightly,” Wilson said in a statement posted to the company’s website. “We are friends and colleagues at EA, we appreciate and value everyone’s contributions, and we are doing everything we can to ensure we are looking after our people to help them through this period to find their next opportunity.”
Electronic Arts is North America’s second-largest video game company with about 9,000 employees. The largest, Activision-Blizzard, laid off 800 employees in February. Both companies posted subpar earnings after the 2018 holiday season, which is typically a peak for video game companies. While EA reported a 10% increase in year over year net revenue last quarter, the company lowered its expected annual revenue from $5.15 billion to $4.875 billion.
At the time, Wilson placed some of the blame for the disappointing quarter on the delayed release of “Battlefield V.” EA’s stock has steadily recovered in recent weeks, mostly thanks to the release of “Apex Legends,” a free-to-play game that has already welcomed more than 50 million players. However, the troubled launch of “Anthem” showed that EA is still struggling with full-price releases.
With America’s largest video game companies forced to make layoffs despite record revenues, its been an unsettling start to the year for workers within the industry. In a survey of nearly 4,000 industry employees attending the Game Developers Conference, 44% said they worked for more than 40 hours a week; 47% of respondents said they felt industry workers should unionize.
“Today we took some important steps as a company to address our challenges and prepare for the opportunities ahead. As we look across a changing world around us, it’s clear that we must change with it. We’re making deliberate moves to better deliver on our commitments, refine our organization and meet the needs of our players. As part of this, we have made changes to our marketing and publishing organization, our operations teams, and we are ramping down our current presence in Japan and Russia as we focus on different ways to serve our players in those markets. In addition to organizational changes, we are deeply focused on increasing quality in our games and services. 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.
This is a difficult day. The changes we’re making today will impact about 350 roles in our 9,000-person company. These are important but very hard decisions, and we do not take them lightly. We are friends and colleagues at EA, we appreciate and value everyone’s contributions, and we are doing everything we can to ensure we are looking after our people to help them through this period to find their next opportunity. This is our top priority.”
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