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[Updated] EA Partners, Other Divisions Facing Closure

by Mike Futter on Apr 25, 2013 at 08:25 AM

[Update #2] Kotaku has received a memo sent by interim CEO and Executive Chairman Larry Probst to the EA staff. The memo details the streamlining taking place, including a consolidation of marketing functions underneath chief operating officer Peter Moore. This also sees the collapse of all label marketing teams and other like functions underneath group vice president of global marketing, Todd Sitrin. Origin moves to Frank Gibeau's Labels organization (EA Games, Maxis, BioWare, and EA Sports). Andrew Wilson, former executive vice president of EA Sports, is taking over leadership of Origin.

It's important to note that even in this internal document, there is no specificity about business operations eliminated or specific refocusing of priorities. This is likely due to the company being in a legally-mandated quiet period pending the release of its fiscal year 2013 financial earnings.

[Update #1] EA just issued the following statement:

"In recent weeks, EA has aligned all elements of its organizational structure behind priorities in new technologies and mobile. This has led to some difficult decisions to reduce the workforce in some locations. We are extremely grateful for the contributions made by each of our employees – those that are leaving EA will be missed by their colleagues and friends.

"These are hard but essential changes as we focus on delivering great games and showing players around the world why to spend their time with us."

EA Partners isn't the only division affected by this latest round of layoffs and restructuring. The company has also reportedly closed PopCap Vancouver and Quicklime Games, a studio comprised of former EA Black Box employees that developed the PC title Need For Speed: World. 

Reached for comment, a PopCap representative referred us to EA corporate communications, who denied to comment and referred us to the statement above.

We'll continue to update this story as we hear more details.

[Original Story]

Game Informer has received word from multiple anonymous sources close to the matter that the EA Partners label will soon be shut down. This program was EA's mechanism for providing contract-based publishing services for independent developers. This move comes during a period that has seen the departure of CEO John Riccitiello, layoffs around the world in the publisher's mobile and social divisions, and the abandonment of relatively new Facebook titles from a studio that was acquired for $300 million.

In our August 2009 issue, we detailed the genesis of EA's publishing arm, which offered services to a number of independent developers. A variety of studios took advantage of EA's prowess to bring their games to market, including Crytek (Crysis 1-3), Starbreeze (Syndicate), Double Fine (Brütal Legend), and Epic Games (Bulletstorm). One of the most visible was 38 Studios' Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning, which was the centerpoint of an EA press event on its release day. Just five months later, the truth about that studio was revealed. Whether EA was owed money by Curt Schilling's studio, and if so, how much, remains unknown. The publisher refused to disclose details of the arrangement. 

EA founded the consulting business with the leadership of Tom Frisina, co-founder of Accolade and Three-Sixty, in 1997. The publishing arm continued to grow, and it was the genesis of EA's relationship with Battlefield developer DICE (which they have since acquired outright). In 2007, EA was the publishing partner for a number of major successes, including Harmonix's Rock Band, Valve's The Orange Box, and Crytek's Crysis.

At the time our story was published in 2009, EA's Partners program was a lean operation of 50 employees. The operation thrived on low overhead and an ability to nimbly move from one project to the next without permanent development staff. It's unclear how an arm of the business that capitalizes on EA's core publishing competencies and relationships could be deemed a drain on resources. 

The two biggest titles anticipated under the label are Respawn's first game and Insomniac's Fuse. According to sources, neither will be affected by this. EA's earnings call for fiscal year 2013 is scheduled for May 7, at which point we expect more information on the publisher's strategy.

We have reached out to EA for comment.