It’s been a rough year of cutbacks for EA, and there’s no hiding it: the closing of Pandemic, the massive layoffs, the trimming of production – it’s all there. With all the office turmoil, you have to wonder if morale within the massive company is at an all-time low. Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello recently spoke with IndustryGamers about the issue:
“I think it bounces around from group to group. Look, no one likes layoffs — me either. But the people in the company, given a choice between a company that wallows in the dirt and one that makes hard aggressive moves to make it the market leader that it could be, they prefer the latter. None of the 1,500 people think they were the right people to be let go, and that hurts. You just can’t be that objective about your own individual job. I think everybody that remains, the vast majority of them understand the logic, they agree with it and support it and think we’re a stronger company for the moves. And they are ALL excited about our move into digital and direct-to-consumer, which is something that probably wasn’t true two years ago when I described the strategy.”
I know one of the 1,500 EA employees who were laid off, and his morale is apparently higher than those who still work there:
“Two and a half years at EA [Redacted] and no complaints from it what-so-ever. I wanna give a shout-out to all the guys I’ve worked with. It was probably the best 2 and a half years I’ve ever had.
John Riccitiello was key to mention that a lot of bad publicity was directed at the company:
“I would say the headwinds on the stock don’t make people smile. I think most people in the company read our press release on our Q2 and first half, and said, ‘Record market share, record revenues, profitability roughly in line with the street… that sounds like victory.’ A lot of negative articles were written that entirely missed the point that we felt we had a great first half. We’re cash flow positive, we’re profitable, we’re growing, and what we’ve chosen to do is a strategic step in the process of resetting our company to a different strategy. Sometimes people almost believe more what they read in a newspaper than what they hear from their own company. A great deal of what’s written is often ill-informed and misunderstood. So it’s a hard thing for morale from time to time.”
So essentially, Riccitiello is virtually admitting that morale is low because of a lot of negative press, but insists the company is pleased to be where it’s at right now. It’s unknown if EA is going to trim down anything else (a studio? more workers?), but if they do, you can imagine that the morale might be reasonably low. If the cutbacks are near finished, I think that it’ll eventually get off the minds of the workers and EA will indeed continue to be a stronger company after releasing less-profitable aspects of itself.
What do you think about John Riccitiello’s words?