A firmly-worded letter that made the rounds online a few days ago is not something that gaming giant EA sends to all its ex-employees and is certainly not part of standard operating procedure, a spokesperson for the company tells Kotaku. It was targeted at a specific ex-employee for a specific reason.
The letter emerged on the Twitter feed of ex-EA game developer Ben Cousins who exited the Battlefield and Madden publisher in 2011 and now works at free-to-play gaming company Ngmoco, while also touting the rise of mobile and other non-console gaming.
The letter, sent by an EA lawyer, threatened legal repercussions should Cousins divulge supposed confidential information from EA. Cousins scoffed, saying on Twitter, that "The irony of course is that what EA covets as 'trade secrets', is actually 'crappy old-fashioned design' by DeNA standards :)" Our report of the story characterized the letter as, more or less, a legal threat piling onto standard nondisclosure agreements any ex-EA employee would sign.
But EA spokesman John Reseburg tells Kotaku that the letter and Cousins' Tweets about it should be read differently. "A cursory read of Ben Cousins' post should make it clear that this is NOT a form letter sent to all departing employees. This was a specific legal warning to an employee who was terminated over concerns about sharing proprietary information."
What EA is saying is that Cousins gave company secrets to an EA competitor and that they fired him because of that. It's a serious accusation, of course, but one that would make the letter seem more focused and less likely to be the kind of thing copied to anyone who splits from the company.
Cousins declined to comment for this story.