EA Laying Off Hundreds of Employees, but Still Aggressively Hiring

Electronic Arts is laying off hundreds of employees following last year’s completion of several major games, including Star Wars and Battlefield 3.

Startup Grind, which first reported the layoffs, said between 500 and 1,000 employees will be affected, representing between 5 percent and 10 percent of the game-publisher’s workforce.

In an emailed statement to All Things D, the company said: “EA is growing and looking to hire hundreds of people for our digital, console, mobile and social games. Like all game companies, we make occasional adjustments to resize teams as projects are completed and new priorities are established. Overall, we expect that headcount will be up at the end of this year.”

Our sources indicate that the layoffs will be closer to 500 and are tied to the company’s game schedule. Last year, the company shipped two epic projects: Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, which were challenging Activision’s respective dominance in first-person shooters and massively multiplayer online categories.

Once a title shifts, some employees stay on to work on other projects or remain on teams that build new content for the existing games to keep them fresh.

In this case, it appears the cuts show just how many resources the company was investing in these titles before launch. We expect to hear about these titles’ performance in a couple weeks when EA reports fourth-quarter earnings.

Three years ago, the company conducted a larger restructuring, totaling 1,500 employees.

Still, the Redwood City, Calif., company has aggressive hiring plans. Previously, it disclosed it wants to hire 5,000 engineers by the end of the decade to help build a platform, crossing all of its labels, including mobile, social and console. In particular, CTO Rajat Taneja has been bulking up his team since joining EA in October and now has 600 people on staff.

In afternoon trading, EA’s stock was down more than 5 percent, or 89 cents, to trade at $15.29 a share. Over the past year, it has traded as high as $26 a share.

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