Electronic Arts ditches plans for new Vancouver studio

With Canada in recession and the world in economic trouble, video-game giant Electronic Arts Inc. has ditched its plans to open a new development studio in Vancouver's Yaletown neighbourhood.

The news, reported yesterday (December 11) by the Globe and Mail, comes in the same week that the company lowered its revenue and earnings expectations for fiscal 2009.

“These are challenging times, they’re uncertain times for our industry and across the board,” EA spokesman Colin Macrae told the Globe. “We continue to be firmly rooted in Vancouver.”

EA, based in Redwood City, California, has two studios in the Vancouver area: Black Box in downtown and EA Canada in Burnaby.

The Yaletown studio would have been situated in a 20,000-square-foot space, close to where Seattle-based Big Fish Games Inc. opened a new studio in early September.

As of March 31, EA had 9,000 employees worldwide. In October, the company announced it planned to lay off six percent of its staff, and this week it said that it would lay off more.

Yesterday, the publicly traded company’s shares closed at US$17.01 on the NASDAQ stock exchange. They opened trading today at US$16.65.

The company, founded in 1982, released Left 4 Dead, Mirror’s Edge, and Need for Speed: Undercover, among other games, in November.

In other news, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, which represents 33,000 high-tech executives, called on the federal government yesterday to stimulate the economy through $60 billion in infrastructure funding.