EA: departures are coincidental

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EA Departures "coincidental"

We’ve been worrying about EA lately. Geoff wondered if it was a sinking ship following departures from Criterion, Popcap and Chillingo stables, followed by their spokesman. Now EA CEO Andrew Wilson is saying it’s all coincidental.

During the publisher’s earnings call, Wilson downplayed the flock of people leaving the company, claiming EA is still all about the creativity:

As a company we’re a creative organization. I came up through the creative side of the organization and I still have a deep passion for bringing in new creative talent and keeping our talent, but also as part of a creative industry people come and go for all kinds of different reasons. You’ve seen some recently have left and these changes happened to be announced in a short window, which was more coincidental than anything and there definitely was no connection between their departures.

So, creative differences? Isn’t that the excuse people have used for years when actually it’s all about awful working conditions, personality clashes or management turmoil? I’m still not convinced that all is okay at EA – it just seems far too convenient that everyone is jumping ship at the same time. Maybe it’s all about people wanting to go indie and take advantage of the “Indie Renaissance” that’s going on at the moment, but my gut tells me that something far more sinister is going on.

It doesn’t seem that people leaving will have a huge impact on EA, though. Wilson explained that work is still underway at those affected studios:

EA as an organization, we’ve got over 8,000 amazingly talented and creative people and we’d love to see these people have the opportunity to step up and lead our studios – guys like John Vechey at PopCap, Matt Webster at Criterion and Ed Rumley at Chillingo have all been at their respective studios for a long time and bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm and new creative thinking to their roles. These studios all have exciting work underway.

I think the implication here is that with 8k employees, we should stop focusing on the people who have left. Sure, I get that plenty of people are staying at EA, but I think the corporate culture varies widely from one studio to another. If your game/studio makes money, EA doesn’t seem to interfere too much. However, if you aren’t profitable, they will step in, take over, and add micro transactions. I suppose only time will tell – who will be the next person to run away screaming?

Last Updated: January 29, 2014

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