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EA to close game maker it bought in '07

Pandemic Studios and a sibling had sold for $775 million. Closing it will leave 200 jobless.

November 18, 2009|Ben Fritz

Electronic Arts Inc. is shutting down its Westwood-based game developer Pandemic Studios just two years after acquiring it, putting nearly 200 people out of work.

The struggling video game publisher informed employees Tuesday morning that it was closing the studio as part of a recently announced plan to eliminate 1,500 jobs, or 16% of its global workforce. Pandemic has about 220 employees, but an EA spokesman said that a core team, estimated by two people close to the studio to be about 25, will be integrated into the publisher's other Los Angeles studio, in Playa Vista.

EA bought Pandemic, along with sibling development studio Bioware Corp., in 2007 for a then-record $775 million in cash and stock.

In an internal memo posted on the news blog Kotaku, Nick Earl, senior vice president of the EA Games label, said Pandemic is being closed to "improve our cost structure, ensure quality and build schedule integrity for this studio." EA reported a loss of $391 million last quarter on a 13.5% drop in revenue.

The company is trying to reshape itself to produce fewer console games and focus on online games that generate revenue from advertising and subscriptions. Last week it agreed to buy Internet social gaming developer Playfish Inc. in a deal worth up to $400 million.

Pandemic was started in 1997 by former employees of Santa Monica publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. Co-founders Andrew Goldman and Josh Resnick, who have been with the company that entire time, are leaving as part of Tuesday's studio closure.

Next month, EA will release the last game developed by Pandemic, a World War II action thriller called the Saboteur. Other games made by Pandemic for which the Playa Vista team may produce sequels include the over-the-top action series Mercenaries and military tactical franchise Full Spectrum Warrior.

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ben.fritz@latimes.com

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