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EA lays off 5% of staff, cancels Respawn's unannounced Mandalorian FPS as it shifts focus from licensed IP

The firm also closed a studio and is sunsetting four mobile titles.

EA logo
Image credit: Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts announced overnight plans to lay off 5% of its workforce, close a studio, sunset a selection of mobile games, and cancel a first-person shooter based in the Star Wars universe.

According to estimates, EA will make approximately 670 jobs redundant, and it has started “communicating these impacts” to employees. EA expects to complete the process by early next quarter.

“I understand this will create uncertainty and be challenging for many who have worked with such dedication and passion and have made important contributions to our company. While not every team will be impacted, this is the hardest part of these changes, and we have deeply considered every option to try and limit impacts to our teams,” said EA CEO Andrew Wilson in a public notice.

“Our primary goal is to provide team members with opportunities to find new roles and paths to transition onto other projects. Where that’s not possible we will support and work with each colleague with the utmost attention, care, and respect.”

This round of layoffs comes 11 months after EA cut its workforce by 6% in March 2023 after having previously let go of 200 QA staff members working on Apex Legends. The company also reportedly canceled a single-player Apex Legends project.

Alongside the job cuts and sunsetting four of its mobile games, EA said it will move away from developing licensed IP it doesn’t believe will be successful.

“We are also sunsetting games and moving away from the development of future licensed IP that we do not believe will be successful in our changing industry,” said Wilson. “This greater focus allows us to drive creativity, accelerate innovation, and double down on our biggest opportunities - including our owned IP, sports, and massive online communities - to deliver the entertainment players want today and tomorrow.”

EA was quick to confirm to multiple outlets these changes will not impact the Marvel projects in development at Motive and Cliffhanger Games - Iron Man and Black Panther, respectvely.

The restructuring has also affected Respawn Entertainment and Battlefield studios - particularly Seattle-based Ridgeline Games, formed by EA to develop a narrative campaign set in the Battlefield universe.

Laura Miele, president of EA Entertainment and Technology, revealed the company will be winding down Ridgeline as a standalone studio, that from inception in 2022, was led by Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto, who left the studio and EA behind earlier this year. Miele stated some Ridgeline staffers are to join EA studio Ripple Effect to work on its Battlefield title and assist the DICE team and Criterion - the latter of which is the lead on all single-player projects set in the Battlefield universe.

Miele stated EA’s vision for Battlefield is “ambitious and exciting,” and thanks to the “largest Battlefield team in the franchise's history,” alongside the leadership of Vince Zampella and Byron Beede, meaningful progress is being made on the upcoming game.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian
Image credit: Disney

With Respawn Entertainment, EA has canceled the studio’s unannounced Star Wars FPS action game to focus on projects based on the firm’s “owned brands while providing support for existing games.” EA feels that giving fans “the next installments of the iconic franchises they want” is the “definition of blockbuster storytelling” and the “right place to focus.”

“Respawn's unique ability to connect with players and create exceptional game experiences is unrivaled in entertainment,” said Miele in a public statement. “As we've looked at Respawn's portfolio over the last few months, what's clear is the games our players are most excited about are Jedi and Respawn's rich library of owned brands.

“Knowing this, we have decided to pivot away from early development on a Star Wars FPS Action game to focus our efforts on new projects based on our owned brands while providing support for existing games.”

According to an Insider Gaming report, the canceled Star Wars game put players in the shoes of a Mandalorian bounty hunter. While mainly a "linear level experience," players could travel to more open areas and acquire bounties, enjoy "vertical dashing" and fast-paced comabt thanks to the Mandalorian jetpack. The main antagonists were stormtroopers of various types roaming the maps, but players would also come into contact with more difficult "boss-like" enemies such as AT-ST walkers, and depending on the planet, they could run into outlaws and other bounty hunters.

The PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S game was said to have featured a base of operations that provided access to the player's ship along with upgrade stations, an armory, a map of the galaxy, and more.

With mobile, despite EA acknowledging the gaming platform has “strong growth opportunities,” it will pull four titles from iOS and Android stores. The games are Kim Kardashian Hollywood, Lord of the Rings, Tap Sports Baseball, and F1 Mobile. EA said pulling the games will allow developers to focus on the remaining games in the portfolio, which the company believes can grow.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Image credit: EA/Respawn

The latest job cuts at EA are just the latest in a wave of layoffs affecting the industry. This year alone, PlayStation announced plans to shed 900 staffers and close its London Studio, which was developing an online multiplayer game set in a modern-day, fantasy London; Supermassive Games announced a reorganization that will reportedly affect 90 of its 150 employees; and back in January, Microsoft shocked many by laying off 1,900 people across its game division after having only closed its acquisition of Activision Blizzard (and its nearly 10,000 employees) three months prior in October 2023.

Things weren’t much better in 2023, as many companies saw redundancies. Two Embracer-owned studios, 3D Realms and Slipgate Ironworks, were both hit with layoffs; SEGA reportedly let its temporary staff go; Digital Bros, the company behind 505 games - which published Control and Assetto Corsa - cut 30% of its global workforce; Saints Row developer Volition shuttered after 30 years; Telltale Games cut most of its staff not long after acquiring UK-based studio Flavourworks; Team17 suffered layoffs; and not long before officially becoming part of Microsoft, Activision Blizzard let go several Hearthstone staffers.

As you see, 2023 was rough for many development studios, and 2024 isn’t looking much better, considering it only turns March tomorrow.

Losing one’s job is emotionally and financially taxing, compounded by the world becoming more expensive daily. The staff at VG247 sincerely wish the best of luck to those affected at EA and other companies, and we hope you land somewhere quickly.

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