According to a report by Kotaku, EA has begun a massive round of layoffs in their Melbourne-based studio FireMonkeys. This round of layoffs marks the third company engaging in mass layoffs within two weeks.
FireMonkeys is one of Australia’s biggest studios, and was formed in 2012 when EA merged IronMonkey Studios and FireMint. The mobile-focused studio has made a variety of games, including Need for Speed: No Limits, The Sims 3: FreePlay, and the Real Racing franchise. Back in 2016, Victorian Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley praised the studio’s story as “one of innovation, creativity, and global success.” Around the time of the layoffs, the studio was developing Real Racing 4, but the game was reportedly officially cancelled earlier this week. Following Real Racing 4’s cancellation, EA executives flew in from overseas to enact wholesale changes to the studio. This included reorganizing the studio’s staff across the titles still in development, including The Sims Mobile.
Developers at FireMonkeys learned about the layoffs earlier this week. Those being let go were informed via private meetings, while the rest learned about the layoffs in a group meeting. The exact numbers are still uncertain, but according to Kotaku, unofficial figures suggest FireMonkeys had around 200 employees. A statement from Game Workers Unite Australia estimates that 40 to 50 people were affected by the layoffs, equivalent to “nearly 10% of the entire Australian game development industry.”
FireMonkeys released a statement, confirming that the studio has “entered a consultation period” in order to shift focus “more on our live services.” Meanwhile, EA has not officially confirmed the cancellation of Real Racing 4, but they said that FireMonkeys will continue to “deliver new content” to the mobile racing game.
GWU Australia calls the layoffs “a devastating blow to local development – an extraordinarily disappointing decision which will affect the already crowded local freelancer and indie market, as well as the undergraduate student body.”