Our Take: EA Announces Layoffs of 350

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If you’ve spend any time around gaming news today, you may have seen this (report by Jason Schreier at Kotaku):

Kotaku Headline

I want to be clear: Jason Schreier has been reporting this accurately and fairly…mostly. I need to keep this short so I am not going to get into the ramifications of certain words & phrases used in the article. The point being, the article is accurate and has been updated as more information became known.

As what has become somewhat of an unfortunate tradition in the larger gaming community, the responses to the article (on Kotaku and message boards such as Reddit) are woefully short on understanding what exactly is going on here. I don’t have a lot of time today, so I am going to re-post my Twitter analysis of the situation:

#EA is apparently laying off 350 people, less than 4% of their workforce, in a move to re-align with new strategies that likely include less marketing, smaller more flexible products, and less focus on other regions.

And as expected, the #gamingcommunity is imploding on itself, calling for #unionization and other ridiculous things like the “end of EA.” No one is reading the details. No one is asking why. No one wants to look at the longer term strategy.

If #EA is going to publish and develop #games for the next 10 years, like all big companies, they have to re-align themselves. In large organizations that isn’t just moving bodies around. There are simply too many people to move.

#EA can’t take people from marketing and move them to development. An organization of that size had to reinvent the way they do things and often that means painful layoffs. It doesn’t mean EA is suddenly evil and trying destroy humanity.

In most cases, companies do this so they can continue to employ the most people possible, while reducing the departments where they don’t have work (due to market forces). It’s not a way to stuff executive paychecks.

By most accounts, #EA is a healthy employer that pays significantly sought after salaries. Talented developers and producers make 6 figures. Mid tier and lower level employees are payed at industry average or better. Let’s stop pretending #EA is ruining lives, or video games.

What is the point of all this? The point is to bring the conversation back to reality. Layoffs are not an experience I wish upon anyone (been there), but we need to talk facts & process, not hyperbole & exaggerations. We can have a conversation, but let’s talk in terms that respect the situation and work within the confines of the real work. By most respects, this is not a “massive” layoff, as been characterized by some media outlets. EA has also confirmed it is allowing people to interview for other positions that are currently open. After that process is complete, the final number will not total 350.

What do you think? Do you agree with this assessment? Do you disagree, and why? Let us know here or on Twitter.