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Electronic Arts Slashes Workforce 188

Dawn Kawamoto writes "Electronic Arts has been slashing jobs in recent weeks and according to Kotaku the size of the layoffs has reached as much as 10 percent of its workforce. The game maker says it's making the move to align its workforce closer to mobile and new technologies. For the console dinosaur that's trying to fight extinction by evolving into a bigger mobile player, this process has been a painful transition with a number of employees ending up in the tar pit - as well as its CEO."
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Electronic Arts Slashes Workforce

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  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @07:42PM (#43551193) Homepage Journal

    The medical term for this is "circling the drain"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 25, 2013 @08:42PM (#43551581)

    Seriously, EA, the best cost-cutting you could do would be to lose the DRM.

  • Re:EA is burning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 25, 2013 @09:47PM (#43551939) Journal

    I want everybody to take a good look at this because this just proves what some of us have been saying all along, which is voting with your dollars works it just isn't magic and when you are talking about a large corp with a huge bank account it takes time to work.

    I mean look at how well it has worked with consumer friendly gaming companies VS consumer unfriendly gaming companies, Valve treats customers well, has doubled their profits for 7 years in a row, EA treats customers like shit? Laying off workers after the CEO bailed rather than be fired, Ubisoft who used to practically give bonuses to those in the company who could come up with a nastier way to treat customers? Removed their DRM from their current titles and from what i understand is putting out patches that remove it from previous titles, and of course Activision which is "restructuring" which is a nice way of saying "trying to stop the bleeding".

    So voting with your dollars DOES WORK, it is just like any real solution isn't a magic wand one can wave to make things change instantly. As I pointed out to those that poo pooed the idea "At least i'm not paying for the right to be treated like shit" and by refusing to give those that treat me as dirt money I know I'm doing my little part in making sure they don't get rewarded for being assholes while at the same time having plenty of truly great games to play. its not like there aren't plenty of companies out there that won't be happy to treat you as a valued customer, when the stink about Diablo 3 being always online so they could nickel and dime you with money markets hit I spread the word about how Runic games was even allowing modding in Torchlight II and had a lot of folks tell me how much they loved the game. BTW if anybody doesn't have it yet? Great game and to celebrate adding Steam workshop support they gave us the Half Life headcrab as one of the pet choices. of course i had to name mine Lamar, just wouldn't be right otherwise LOL.

    If a company insists on treating you like shit? Don't buy from that company and be quick to point out alternatives to anybody who is thinking of buying it. As we can plainly see here it does work, it simply takes time to hurt a huge corp like EA.

  • by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <VortexCortex.project-retrograde@com> on Thursday April 25, 2013 @11:01PM (#43552295)

    Companies that gather their wealth by leveraging artificial scarcity (bits are in infinite supply) can easily slash their workforces and continue profiting by their infinite price hikes:
    if ( supply == infinity ) price = 0; // Regardless of cost to create.
    If price is greater than zero then the markup tends toward infinity.

    If instead the company was marketing something that is actually scarce -- it's ability to do work: configure the bits -- then their profit would be directly related to the capacity to perform work and create new content. Right now their profits are decoupled from the actual artists capable of creating works -- The people you want your money to go towards when you pay for the works. This system of publishing is flawed: By having no guarantee of even interest from the customers the publishers gamble with the fate of those making the works. If they make a great product one round, but stumble once, they are cut away as failures.

    All other labor markets do not use artificial scarcity. Artists can be commissioned to make works and they can rest secure in that their efforts have been funded. Mechanics and Home builders and all service industry employees get guarantees for their work in the form of employment contracts, the laws of the land ensure they will get paid for their work. The workers under a Publisher are actually guaranteed via employment contract, but the publisher itself has no assurance that the real customer will pay the price sufficient to keep producing works.

    Clearly the problem is copyright -- The enforcement of artificial scarcity. You don't own your work, the customer who paid for it does. Only by the economically untenable practice of enforcing copyright are the producers able to sell something that is in infinite supply (copies). It would be like selling ice to Eskimos, or sand to beach bums.

    Interestingly, crowd funding has come a long way towards cutting out the Publishers who seek to maximize profit far beyond the cost to create works. Instead you can ask the customers directly what works they would like to fund, and then do the work for the agreed upon price, then give the works to all the public for free (because they already paid to have it created). To the artists themselves this is no different than working under the Publisher. Sadly, greed prevents most of the independent developers who crowd-source funding from avoiding the artificial scarcity racket -- They fall to the same moronic methods that the Publishers do when they sell copies. The publishers must inflate price just to justify their own existence, but their practices do not need to exist. Instead, they could simply do more work to make more money -- get assurances from the customers for payment and make new things -- and never have to worry about being laid off again.

    I write this to inform any former EA employees (or anyone in their positions) that there is another way to make a living -- The way I do: You can have a solid future, but you must change your damn minds about copyrights. Market your ability to do work directly to the customers, like all others in labor markets do. If you can't manage to come to grips with the reality that selling Ice to Eskimos is a laughable business strategy for everyone involved, then at least unionize you fools! Crunch Time?! NO. That reeks of incompetent management, and abusive manipulation. It is no coincidence that the workers having the problems of instability, churn and abuse to this degree are also those that ultimately make profits by way of artificial scarcity...

  • Re:EA is burning (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 25, 2013 @11:03PM (#43552307)

    I'm not convinced that the layoff is due to lack of Sim City sales. While I have no inside knowledge, I'll be willing to bet that EA is financially stable and this is just a move by management to streamline their workforce. Drop the dead weight and rehire fresh new programmers that don't make as much and work longer hours. With the poor sales of a few titles, they have reasonable excuse to dump people that won't jeopardize morale . When I was a consultant, I saw several companies do this (e.g. stock market fluctuations, 9/11, etc.).

  • Re:EA is burning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darkfeline ( 1890882 ) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @11:50PM (#43552495)

    I think those people really just oppose bullshit DRM. Steam DRM is very tame and reasonable, and I think most people don't really have anything against DRM as a concept that help protect game devs a little from possible lost profits; it's the bullshit DRM that get in the way of legitimate players playing the game that's the problem.

  • Re:EA is burning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:11AM (#43553285)

    There's DRM and there's DRM. Now, I won't say "good" vs. "bad" DRM, because inherently, from the consumer point of view, there's no such thing as "good" DRM. At best, there can be "acceptable" DRM. What's "acceptable" is up to the user himself, though.

    Some people don't mind that selling their games is made impossible because they keep every game they buy anyway, so it does not restrict them. Others find it insufferable because their "game economy cycle" depends on them being able to sell old games to buy new ones. Some people don't mind "always on" DRM because they only play multiplayer games anyway where not having a connection to the internet means not playing the game, or because they have a stable connection and leave it up all the time, others may consider that a completely unacceptable restriction because their connection is crappy, because they don't play multiplayer and don't want their game to suddenly shut down on them for no game related reason, or simply because they don't trust the maker of the game to keep the controlling server running or offer a patch when they shut it off. That last part being maybe a problem by itself for some gamers, who enjoy pulling out an old game every now and then, while others won't worry about it since they only play the most recent installment of their favorite games and never look back.

    As you see, what gamers will accept and what they will not highly depends on the individual gamer. One thing is certain: Some kind of DRM will be in the games. Even if they have to return to messing with the CD/DVD/BluRay standard and creating discs that you cannot copy for some obscure reason. The game makers of course want total control over their games, but as we can see now, that doesn't fly because the customer doesn't play along. So they'll backpedal a bit and test the waters again until they see what we'll swallow.

    Steam is popular because they already kinda found that sweet spot between them wanting control and the player wanting it to "just work". Steam pretty much locks you into their service because a lot, maybe nearly all or even all, of your games are in there. Lose control of your Steam account, lose control of your library of games. Banned from one (VAC) game, banned from pretty much all of them. These are of course issues that loom over the heads of Steam users, but that seems to be something they can accept. The games work, installing them is trivial at worst (9 out of 10 games just install and you're good to go), no worries with authentication servers or similar bullshit, and that's something gamers can apparently accept.

"Turn on, tune up, rock out." -- Billy Gibbons