Electronic Arts is laying off a ton of customer service staff at its Austin office, according to internal emails viewed by Kotaku. One source familiar with the decision told Kotaku that as many as 100 employees could be affected, many of whom supported live operations on FIFA 22. Going forward, EA will instead seemingly outsource that work, a move that would come after the video game publisher recently announced it’s ditching the FIFA license and rebranding its popular soccer series EA Sports FC starting in 2023.
“We continuously evolve to deliver better experiences for our fans and are improving our support model,” Joel Knutson, VP of customer experience at EA, wrote in an email to staff viewed by Kotaku. “In order to reduce complexity and increase our efficiency, flexibility and scalability,” the executive said roles would be eliminated in Austin, and that he would also be “proposing redundancy” for similar roles in EA’s Galway, Ireland office which provides customer service support for European players.
This work, which a source tells Kotaku mainly consists of email, chat, and phone support for players experiencing issues in games like FIFA 22, such as having trouble with microtransactions, will instead be outsourced. The source said this decision came after repeated complaints by EA Austin and Galway staff of insufficient annual raises consisting of as little as $0.10 hourly.
An employee in Galway said as many as another 100 are being laid off there, with the jobs moving to third-party companies based in Romania and India. Staff were told about the plans in a 15 minute Zoom call where they weren’t allowed to ask questions. “The news came as a real shock for everyone at Galway,” the employee told Kotaku. “We suspect it’s an accumulation of several internal problems and to simply to save money.”
EA reported another profitable quarter last week, thanks in large part to live services like FIFA and other sports games.
“The changes in our customer support function are not tied to any one gaming franchise, nor are they connected to our EA SPORTS FC announcement last week,” an EA rep told Kotaku in an email. “The customer support function support a wide range of player questions pertaining to our gaming titles, technology, including Origin or our EA Play subscription service.”
10 new jobs for customer service support on mobile games are being created, according to the email, which laid-off employees can apply for.
When asked for comment on the reason behind the apparent cost-cutting measure, EA spokesperson Charlie Fortescue provided the following statement:
We’re always thinking about how we improve our player experience, and this includes reviewing how we can best provide the support they may need to enjoy them fully. With this in mind we have proposed some changes in our customer support function to give more flexibility and allow us to help players when they need it most. As part of this process we are considering changing a number of roles within the team, closing some roles and also creating new ones. We are working closely with our people throughout this process and are providing support to anyone whose role is impacted.
Update: 5/18/22, 5:54 p.m. ET: Added further comment from EA.
Update: 5/20/21, 4:49 p.m. ET: Added more information from affected employees, including an update of the estimated impact of the layoffs.