Electronic Arts has enacted a huge wave of layoffs at its Melbourne, Australia-based development team, FireMonkeys. The layoffs will reportedly affect up to 10 percent of the studio’s workforce, amounting to some 40 to 50 team members.
According to Kotaku Australia, the studio focused solely on mobile titles, though its latest project Real Racing 4 had been canceled earlier this week. After the decision to scrap the game was made, executives from EA flew into Australia to make sweeping changes at the studio. Reportedly, these changes included a complete redistribution of staff across all projects, including popular life simulation franchise The Sims Mobile.
Not long after these changes were announced, individual workers were called in for meetings in which they were informed of EA’s decision to let them go. Speaking to Kotaku Australia, one of the remaining workers explained that those who had kept their jobs were informed via email but the layoffs had had a catastrophic effect on team morale. The anonymous worker explained that given the number of staff left, the completion of the studio’s work would be extremely difficult and that the general consensus around the office is that FireMonkeys will be entirely shuttered any day now.
EA has put out a statement to try and calm fears of the studio’s future, stating that the studios pedigree in live service games was important to the future focus of EA, who wish for FireMonkeys to refocus on more on these services moving forward.
In response to the news, Game Workers Unite Australia have made an official statement calling once again for the unionization of the industry. According to the statement, these layoffs will account for approximately five percent of the overall Australian games industry workforce.
FireMonkeys was founded in 2012 by EA when the mega publisher merged together Australian developers FireMint and IronMonkey Studios. The merged workforce was renamed FireMonkeys and by 2016 represented one of the largest ever development teams in Australia. This was no small achievement, given the still relatively small size of the video games industry in Australia, and FireMonkeys was even congratulated by local politicians as a creative, global success.