Electronic Arts has closed their Dublin, Ireland studio, leaving ninety-six employees out of work. In a statement sent to multiple outlets including Gaming Bus, the company stated that the move was finished at the end of a consultation period.
The consultation period in Ireland has been completed… after having consulted fully with the employee representatives, the PopCap leadership team has decided to close our Dublin office.
The news was collaborated by JP Vaughan on his Twitter. In a separate conversation, he confirmed that the team had had thirty days to prepare, the same length of time as the consultation.
Further evidence points to this being expected: in the same feed, he RT’d a tweet by software engineer John Paul Hayes that said, “Big day tomorrow” by simply saying, “Agreed.” EA has stated that terminated employees could be rehired into other positions within the larger company.
The consultation period began when EA and PopCap first announced layoffs in North America based mostly around their offices in Seattle. Later, EA announced that they would be hiring 300 people to man a customer service centre in Galway, Ireland.
Under British standards, a collective consultation period is required for any company that is looking to make more than twenty employees redundant within a ninety day period. It allows the employees to make their case to their employers as ways to mitigate and minimize the redundancies. Consultations are not binding, which means they do not have to come to a more amicable situation that benefits the employees.
Electronic Arts bought PopCap for a minimum of $750 million in July of 2011. They have stated that their recent reorganization was designed to focus the company more on social and mobile gaming.
Analysis: Back in August, PopCap co-founder John Vechey wrote a blog stating that EA had nothing to do with their decision to reorganize and lay off people, and that PopCap made their decisions as a company by stating that it “would have been worse” had EA’s money not been behind them.
My long-form analysis of that blog: bullshit. Someone pushed Humpty Dumpty.
Electronic Arts has every right to recoup some of their investment after buying PopCap for so much money – a maximum of $1.3 billion if incentives are made – and to refocus the company. After all, they are the owners now. But I don’t recall PopCap having to lay off over 100 people all said before EA came along. Now, EA executives are talking about a mobile gaming “holy war” and changing entire company’s focus to queue up on the front lines of said war. PopCap can look their fans in the eye and say that it had nothing to do with EA all they want, but let’s face it: he’s an EA employee now. He knows who butters his bread. And going back to that blog, his reassurance that the executives and decision makers behind PopCap are still around is telling because the people making those games are disposable.
One last thought: anyone who seriously says, “Anyone who lost their job in Dublin can just go to Galway!” is clueless and insulting the intelligence of the Dublin crew. Galway is a call centre. Simply put, it’s level one morons reading from a customer service script. It’s nice that they’re employed, but they’re the bottom of the barrel, one step above a trained monkey. To even call them a part of the games industry is insulting to those who actually make games.