› Foros › Multiplataforma › General
Electronic Arts closing Bellevue game studio
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
By JOHN COOK
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Electronic Arts is closing its computer-game studio in Bellevue and moving half the jobs to a larger development operation in Vancouver, B.C.
The closure is a blow to the Seattle gaming industry. Electronic Arts has developed such racing titles as "Need for Speed" for the past six years.
About 20 employees will be transferred to Vancouver. The rest -- another 20 -- will lose their jobs. At its peak, Electronic Arts employed about 70 people in Bellevue.
The Bellevue office, which opened in 1997 after Electronic Arts acquired Issaquah-based Manley & Associates, was the smallest of the company's game studios. That played a part in the closure, Electronic Arts spokeswoman Trudy Muller said.
"Rather than have smaller studios scattered all around and losing focus, we are bringing the Seattle folks up (to Vancouver) to keep it all centralized," Muller said.
Electronic Arts employs 950 people in Vancouver, the largest game studio operated by the publicly traded company. It employs about 3,600 people worldwide.
Employees were told of the closure last week, only a few days before "Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2" -- a computer game developed in Bellevue -- was released.
Muller said it made sense to close the office at the end of the game's production cycle, allowing an easier transition for employees. Those who are not transferred will have the opportunity to apply for other jobs with Electronic Arts, Muller said. Severance packages and outplacement services also will be provided.
The effect of Electronic Arts' decision was immediate. The Redwood City, Calif., company canceled an appearance at the "Tech Future" event last night in Seattle, a WSA-sponsored symposium about the gaming business.
"It wasn't the best time to be representing our Washington state presence as a development studio when we are no longer going to be there," Muller said.
Although some of the presenters were disheartened by the news, they said it will not damage the Seattle gaming community.
The area is still home to Nintendo and Microsoft Corp., two giants of the industry with their respective GameCube and Xbox video-game consoles. Several smaller game makers, such as WildTangent and Valve, also call Seattle home.
Still, the Electronic Arts' departure "blindsided a number of people," said Frank Catalano, a technology analyst who moderated the WSA's gaming panel last night.
"There has been a feeling that game companies should be immune from the downturn, because entertainment generally does well in economic downturns," Catalano said. "But there is more competition now for those software entertainment dollars than ever before."