“Console transitions are a complex and challenging experience,” said EA Labels president Frank Gibeau in a blog post following the announcement of the PlayStation 4 in February, “I’ve helped navigate several and agree with an old saying we have at EA: Transition is our friend.” That’s not true for everyone, though. The entire reason Gibeau posted the statement online was to address the latest round of layoffs affecting Electronic Arts, including staff members at Army of Two developer Visceral Montreal, employees in Los Angeles, and “smaller locations.” It was confirmed on Tuesday that one of the smaller locations in question is the studio once called EA2D, better known today as BioWare San Francisco.
A source speaking to Games Radar from within the studio confirmed that EA had laid off all the thirty employees working at the studio. The San Francisco group specialized in mobile and social titles like Mirror’s Edge 2D, Wee War, The Fancy Pants Adventure, and the popular Dragon Age: Legends Facebook game. EA said that it was “too expensive” to keep the studio running.
When asked for a statement regarding the studio’s closure, EA pointed to Gibeau’s February post as its final word on the matter.
Electronic Arts can’t be blamed for trimming the fat across its business. The console transition may only just be starting in the public sphere, but its effects on gaming businesses have already taken a toll. EA earnings for the holiday quarter are evidence of that: tvhe publisher posted a $45 million loss for the period. Though digital revenue rose, retail game sales fell by 23-percent, forcing the company to shut down franchises like Medal of Honor. Meanwhile, EA is pouring more and more money into development for next-gen consoles like PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s new Xbox. Peter Moore confirmed that’s already devoted $80 million to next-gen game production, and that’s just for the fiscal year ending this March. With retail sales dropping and development costs of next-generation games rising, it’s only natural that small but costly studios like BioWare San Francisco will pay the price.