Electronic Arts job cuts hit Burnaby

Video game maker Electronic Arts is cutting 1,500 jobs or about 17 per cent of its workforce, including a "significant" reduction in staff at its operations in Burnaby, B.C.

Video game maker sheds 17% of North American workforce

Video game maker Electronic Arts is cutting 1,500 jobs, or about 17 per cent of its workforce, including a "significant" reduction in staff at its major operations in Burnaby, B.C.

The company behind such games as Madden NFL 10 and Rock Band said Monday the cuts include closure of several of its facilities across North America and dropping some of its titles to save it $100 million US annually.

The California-based company  has about 9,000 employees, including 2,700 in Canada —1,500 in Burnaby and the rest in Montreal and Edmonton.

A Canadian spokesman for the company said while the "reductions are significant" at its Burnaby operations, the studio there will remain open.

EA would not break down the cuts by region or comment specifically on the fate of its operations in Montreal and Edmonton.

Follows 10% cut

The latest cuts come after EA announced at the end of last year that it would slash its workforce by about 10 per cent to save $120 million US a year.

At that time, EA also moved its Vancouver-based Black Box Studio, known for the popular driving game Need For Speed, to its Burnaby facility.

EA said the latest round of cuts will be complete by March and result in restructuring charges of $130 million to $150 million US.

EA said the restructuring is being done in a tough market for game sales as a result of the recession. It plans to focus on higher-profit products.

The layoffs came alongside EA's announcement it was buying Playfish Inc., the creator of popular social networking games such as Who Has the Biggest Brain and Pet Society, for $275 million US.

That deal moves EA further into the lucrative world of social online games, which tens of millions of people play on Facebook, MySpace, the iPhone and other platforms.

"We are making tough, but right calls," CEO John Riccitiello told investors during a conference call Monday.

Riccitiello's comments came after EA reported a second-quarter loss of $391 million US, or $1.21 a share, 26 per cent wider than the loss from a year earlier. The company also said it expects to report a net loss for the full fiscal year.