Rumor: Need For Speed PSP, EA Canada Staffers Axed

Illustration for article titled Rumor: Need For Speed PSP, EA Canada Staffers Axed

Another batch of Vancouver area game developers are looking for work, as sources tell us that EA Canada's Burnaby location was the latest to be hit by Electronic Arts' ongoing layoffs.


The count numbered as many as 55 EA staffers, according to a regularly reliable source, one who tells us that the cuts might also mean at least one casualty on the software side: Need For Speed for the PlayStation Portable.

The last entry in the long-running driving series, Need For Speed: Undercover, was called out as a likely underperformer by analysts following disappointing results. It wouldn't be hard to imagine that if sales of the console versions of NFS: Undercover were disappointing that sales of the PSP version, handled by fellow Vancouverites Piranha Games, would be any better.

If true, the series may have fallen in line with EA's plans to cut "SKUs from the bottom levels of profitability."

EA CEO John Riccitiello had voiced his complaints about the status of the series, calling Undercover's predecessor Need For Speed: Pro Street just "okay." Following Pro Street, the Need For Speed team was staffed up, split and given longer development cycles on the games, a decision that may have proven more costly than beneficial.


When contacted for clarification, EA reps responded with a reminder.

"As announced in February, all EA divisions and facilities worldwide are subject to a cost cutting initiative that will impact roughly 10 percent of the employee population," read a statement. "Those cuts will take place between December and the end of our fiscal year in March."



I started out feeling bad for EA, but then I realized...only recently did EA start pumping out games that were quite good (Dead Space, for example) and/or original (Mirror's Edge) but most didn't have the replayability to garner a $60 purchase price (except for Rock Band 2, the lone exception). And prior to that were games like Facebreaker, Spore, NFS: Pro Street, Battlefield Bad Company (good, but not true to the series and released at a bad time and not marketed well), Army of Two (good, but buggy at launch and kinda short), Medal of Honour Airbourne...

Quantum of Solace and Burnout Paradise were debatable, and certainly their sports games fell in the good category on the whole. But that's not a good ratio of must have purchases vs. rentals or skips.