An Australian source claims alleged layoffs in EA’s Firemonkeys Studio.
Who Are The Firemonkeys?
Firemonkeys Studios is a game development and publishing company located in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. In 2011, Electronic Arts (EA) acquired Firemint for an undisclosed amount, incorporating it as an in-house studio for EA Interactive. Earlier in 2010, IronMonkey Studios had also become a part of EA Interactive. Firemint later acquired another Australian game developer, Infinite Interactive, known for the Puzzle Quest series. In 2012, Firemint and IronMonkey Studios merged under the new name Firemonkeys, as announced in a blog post. The company released new games, including Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Real Racing 3, under the new name.
What Will Happen Their Supported Games?
EA’s Melbourne-based Firemonkeys Studio is reportedly set to undergo significant layoffs, affecting nearly two-thirds of its staff. The news was allegedly announced internally in April 2023, with EA executives flying into Melbourne to inform staff that Firemonkeys would become a ‘monotitle’ studio working solely on the mobile game, The Sims FreePlay, which has earned the studio several award nominations. According to Kotaku Australia, several projects in development, including Real Racing 4, a sequel to the popular Real Racing mobile series, have been cancelled as part of these alleged structural changes.
An EA spokesperson confirmed that the publisher is “making some changes to the structure of Firemonkeys Studio, allowing teams to focus on supporting live services for The Sims FreePlay.” That being said, we still have no knowledge of exactly how many employees are being laid off.
When Did The Change Begin?
The studio’s general manager, Joe Donoghue, was reportedly made redundant in late April 2023. We believe some staff might be moved to new projects at Firemonkeys while others will be laid off. It is unclear whether EA will offer the laid-off staff members any severance packages or other forms of support.
This isn’t the first instance of layoffs at EA’s Firemonkeys. In 2019, a significant round of layoffs reduced the studio’s headcount by around 40-50 staff members. However, a dedicated team continued to work on the studio’s major franchises.
EA CEO Andrew Wilson announced a move away from ‘projects that [did] not contribute to [EA’s] strategy’ for the future in March 2023. This was expected to result in ‘restructuring’ that would ‘impact approximately six percent of [the] company’s workforce’.
EA has yet to confirm the alleged layoffs officially and, at the time of writing, has not responded to requests for comment. However, an EA spokesperson has said that they are changing the Firemonkeys Studio structure to allow teams to focus on supporting live services for The Sims FreePlay. The statement also noted that support for “Real Racing 3” and “Need for Speed: No Limits” will transition to existing teams at EA and that they will continue to work closely with all relevant teams during the transition.
It is also worth mentioning that Firemonkeys is no longer directly developing The Sims Mobile. Slingshot, an EA studio in Hyderabad, India, has taken over its development since 2021. In addition, Slingshot will now be taking over the continuous development of Firemonkeys’ racing games, Real Racing 3 and Need for Speed: No Limits. The staff who previously worked on these titles, some of whom had been involved since their inception and earlier iterations, will assist in transitioning the work to India.
Why Is The Layoff Happening?
The gaming industry is known for its cyclical nature and constant evolution. Studios often need to adjust their strategies and make changes to remain competitive. However, the human cost of these changes, such as layoffs, can be significant. It is essential for companies to communicate effectively with their staff members and provide them with adequate support during transitions.
EA’s History With Cutting Jobs
In addition to this being the second major cut-off happening in Firemonkeys, EA seems to have a few instances of massive layoffs in its history.
On November 9, 2009, EA fired 1500 employees. This was about 17% of the company’s workforce at the time. Similar instances were recorded in 2013, with around 1000 employees being laid off, in 2017, with Visceral Games’ closure and later in 2019, with about 4% of the workforce being fired.
The game industry is currently experiencing a surge of layoffs, with numerous major studios being affected in the past four weeks. Companies such as CD Projekt, Firaxis, Kabam, Relic Entertainment, Deck Nine Games, Brace Yourself Games, Deviation Games, Ubisoft, Plaion, Unity, and Phoenix Labs have all reportedly undergone job cuts.
The future of Firemonkeys Studio remains uncertain, and it is unclear how these layoffs will affect the quality and quantity of the studio’s output. EA’s reputation has already been negatively impacted by previous instances of layoffs. It remains to be seen how this latest news will affect the company’s reputation and relationship with its employees.
Firemonkeys Studios is a game development and publishing company based in Melbourne, Australia. It was created in 2012 when Firemint and IronMonkey Studios merged under the new name. Firemint, which was acquired by Electronic Arts (EA) in 2011, had earlier acquired another Australian game developer, Infinite Interactive.
According to reports, Firemonkeys Studios is undergoing significant layoffs, affecting almost two-thirds of its staff. The studio will now focus solely on The Sims FreePlay, with several projects in development, including Real Racing 4, reportedly cancelled.
The gaming industry is constantly evolving, and studios often need to make changes to remain competitive. However, layoffs can have a significant human cost, and it is essential for companies to communicate effectively with their staff members and provide them with adequate support during transitions.
EA has had instances of major layoffs in the past, including in 2009, 2013, 2017, and 2019. The current surge of layoffs in the game industry has also affected numerous other major studios.