Black Box Studio not closing, just moving: Electronic Arts

Earlier today (December 19), the Georgia Straight reported that Electronic Arts has announced that it is vacating a facility in downtown Vancouver. The news comes a week after the video-game developer and publisher revealed it was not going ahead with plans to open a new studio in the city’s Yaletown district.

Colin Macrae, director of communications at EA Canada, spoke to the Straight this morning from his office at the company’s Burnaby campus, where Black Box Studio is being moved. He stressed that the move was motivated by the company’s desire to become more cost-efficient and reduce operating expenses.

The studio’s approximately 350 staffers are not being split up or reassigned, Macrae said, but simply being moved to the EA Canada campus.

“Black Box Studio is not closing,” Macrae said. “Defining the studio by teams and culture, it will remain.”

He said the new arrangement would be similar to the organization of EA’s facility in Montreal, where two development teams, EA Mobile and EA Games, share space and resources.

“We’ve got an amazing facility in Burnaby and the space to accommodate Black Box,” Macrae said.

He expects the transition to be completed by mid 2009.

Recently, Black Box has been working on the Need for Speed and Skate franchises. The future of those series is unclear.

Macrae said that the company had no further announcements about individual franchises or titles.

Today’s announcement also revealed EA will reduce its worldwide workforce by approximately 10 percent, or about 1,000 people.

Macrae said he had no further details to share about that aspect of the restructuring plan, reiterating that the head-count reduction was expected to occur before the company’s fiscal year-end at the end of March 2009.

“The decision today is related to facilities,” Macrae said. “We’re taking Black Box and its people and franchises and moving them to the Burnaby facility.”