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NBA Elite Reportedly Changes Hands Amidst Layoffs At EA Canada

A rough holiday season keeps getting rougher for the House of Sports.

Following the indefinite delay of the troubled NBA Elite franchise and reports that EA Sports MMA has faltered at retail, today EA Sports suffered from a fresh round of layoffs. The first sign of trouble came from an unlikely source, when 3D Realms' George Broussard tweeted "EA Canada lays off 100+. Rumors swirl about global EA layoff in double digit range."

EA director of communications Jeff Brown confirmed the staff reduction to us, though he didn't get into specifics. "As you know, seasonal roll-offs that follow game launches are common and vital to maintaining a healthy business," he told us. "Because so many of our games ship in the holiday quarter, the team size adjustments tend to follow in the same timeframe. However, EA is growing and several of our studios are looking to hire talented people." This marks the third straight year of layoffs during the holiday season for EA.

The layoffs were only the start of the bad news rolling out of Burnaby. Later in the day an unnamed source told 1UP that development duties for NBA Elite were being shifted to the Orlando-based Madden studio EA Tiburon. Since the birth of the Xbox 360 and PlayStaton 3, EA's NBA franchise has struggled to compete with the superior 2K Sports brand, lagging behind NBA 2K critically and financially. This year's game in particular was a major disappointment given that EA handed the reins to David Littman, who promised a new direction centered on the dual analog control scheme he implemented to great success in the NHL franchise. When reached for comment, an EA rep told us, "We have no announcements about our NBA Elite franchise at this time."

If the news of Elite transitioning to Tiburon is true, the NBA team is the obvious target for the deepest cuts. The EA Sports Active 2 team could also be facing layoffs since the product is shipping November 16 and most, if not all, of the development should be wrapped up. Given the solid performances of this year's NHL and FIFA products, those teams will likely be left intact. EA Canada is also developing Fight Night Champion.

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