This month is a pretty bad one for game developer layoffs. Activision Blizzard announced nearly 800 job cuts earlier this month and ArenaNet just announced layoffs of their own yesterday. Now, EA has begun a massive round of layoffs in its Melbourne studio FireMonkeys.
The studio was also developing Real Racing 4, although it's understood that the project was officially cancelled earlier this week. Following that decision, executives from EA have flown in from overseas to affect wholesale changes across the studio. Those decisions included the cancellation of Real Racing 4 and a reorganisation of staff across the titles currently under their management, which includes The Sims Mobile.
Developers were notified of the layoffs earlier this week. Those impacted were told via individual meetings, while employees that remained were informed via a group meeting, Kotaku Australia understands.
One employee, who spoke under anonymity, said the current atmosphere is so grim that remaining staff are operating under the assumption the whole studio will eventually be shut down. "No idea how certain tasks will be done at all if I look at who got let go," they said.
Unofficial figures on the size of the Australian games industry placed the number of staffers at Firemonkeys at close to 200. A statement this morning from Game Workers Unite Australia originally estimated that 80 to 100 staffers were impacted, but that has since been amended to "some 40 to 50 people".
FireMonkeys was created in 2012 after EA merged dev studios IronMonkey and FireMint. It is one of the largest game dev studios in Australia. The studio was focused exclusively on mobile development and was responsible for titles like Real Racing 3, The Sims: Freeplay, and Need for Speed: No Limits.
The reason for the layoffs appears to be based around EA's new live service model.
A representative for the game publisher told Kotaku:
The FireMonkeys studio is working on some of our most popular mobile games. We recently made a decision to shift teams to focus more on our live services, and have entered into a consultation period that may impact some roles in the studio. We're working to match skills with opportunities as we go through this period, identifying other opportunities at EA, and providing as much help to our employees as we possibly can.
Unfortunately, the 2019 Game Dev Job listing google doc only includes contact information for two other studios in Australia: TBA Studio and League of Geeks.