Electronic Arts Inc (EA) has announced that it will be cutting around 6% of its staff as part of a global restructuring plan. The US company, which employs just under 13,000 people worldwide, plans to take charges of as much as $200m (€183.9m) during what has been a challenging year for the video game industry. The cuts will impact around 800 workers and take place over the next few months, with some employees being reassigned.
EA has a strong presence in the west of Ireland, with its office in Galway employing teams across EA’s Worldwide Customer Experience, Quality Assurance, Quality Engineering and EA’s Digital Platform. First opened in 2011, the site has been supported by IDA Ireland and currently employs around 400 people. It is currently unclear how many of EA’s Irish staff will be impacted by the company’s restructuring plans.
EA is the latest tech company with a strong Irish presence to cut jobs amid a global slowdown in the sector. Since the end of 2022, overly-optimistic forecasts and excessive hiring have prompted a major shift in the sector, with EA joining tech companies including Meta, Twitter, Microsoft and Dell among others in reducing their global workforce.
As part of the restructuring plans, the California-headquartered company’s charges include $65m (€59.77m) for employee severance and another $65m in office-space reductions and other expenses, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday. “As we drive greater focus across our portfolio, we are moving away from projects that do not contribute to our strategy, reviewing our real estate footprint, and restructuring some of our teams,” Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilson said in a memo to staff.
The global gaming company, known for its FIFA and Madden NFL sports franchises, struggled to release a new hit last year. In January, the company shuttered its Pasadena, California, mobile-game studio Industrial Toys, which worked on a version of shooter Battlefield. It also ended production on the mobile version of the popular shooting game Apex Legends. The racing game Need for Speed Unbound, which launched late last year, received little attention.
The company’s next anticipated blockbuster is Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which EA delayed until April 28. In the third quarter, EA’s net bookings fell 9.1% to $2.34 billion, the biggest decline in two years. The video game industry experienced a contraction in 2022 based on a weak release calendar. Game software company Unity Software Inc., Tencent Holdings Inc.’s Riot Games and Israeli gaming company Playtika Holding Corp. all laid off employees, but EA’s cuts are the largest so far in 2023.
It remains to be seen how many of EA’s Irish staff will be impacted by the restructuring plans. However, the news is undoubtedly a blow to the Irish tech sector, which has been enjoying a period of sustained growth in recent years. The sector has been a key driver of Ireland’s economic recovery, with many of the world’s largest tech companies setting up operations in the country.
The Irish government has been keen to attract foreign investment in the tech sector, and has offered generous tax incentives to companies that set up in the country. However, the news that EA is cutting jobs will come as a setback to the government’s plans to continue to grow the sector.
It is not yet clear what impact the job cuts will have on EA’s operations in Galway. The company’s office in the city has been a key part of its global operations, and has played a key role in the development of some of its most popular games.
EA’s decision to cut jobs comes at a time of significant change in the video game industry. The sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted supply chains and led to a slowdown in production. At the same time, the rise of mobile gaming has led to increased competition in the market, with many gamers opting for free-to-play titles over more traditional console games.
Despite these challenges, however, the video game industry remains one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world. With the rise of virtual reality and other new technologies, there is still plenty of scope for growth in the coming years. However, companies like EA will need to adapt to the changing landscape if they are to remain competitive in the years ahead.
EA’s decision to cut jobs will undoubtedly be a blow to the company’s employees, many of whom will be facing an uncertain future in the coming months. However, it is hoped that the company’s operations in Galway will be able to weather the storm, and that the Irish tech sector will continue to grow and thrive in the years ahead.