Today was yet again another bump in the road for video game development in Vancouver. Though it was probably just coincidence and bad luck, it happened on two fronts. First, I heard that out in Burnaby, the EA Sports Active team got hit bad. I’m not sure the about specifics but apparently the plans for Active going forward have been either canceled outright or at the very least, been scaled back severely. I would guess the possibility of having an EA Sports Active 3 is almost non-existent at this point. I do know that the fallout of this was that about half the team was let go. How this breaks down into designers, artists, producers, and engineers is unknown to me. The rest of the team was assigned to various other teams within the Sports label. Two of my friends were on the Active team and they got placements elsewhere on other sports franchises. I suppose they were lucky.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the most extreme news was saved for Propaganda Games, who were outright closed up today by parent company, Disney. The writing was unfortunately on the wall when months earlier, Disney decided to cancel their Pirates of the Caribbean game which had been in development for years and millions of dollars. Oddly, the game was canned when it had received good press during previews and was likely just months from completion. That decision, among others, just added to the impression that Disney did not know how to make video games. The most unfortunate part of the studio closure was that I knew three people that lost their jobs today. I had worked with all three before and I would love to work with them again in the future. I know there was severance involved but I do not know if Disney was generous in that regard. In any case, I hope everyone lands on their feet soon, especially the one who just recently welcomed his first child into the world.
For the better part of two years, news like today’s seems to be all too commonplace. We all hope that each layoff or studio closure is that last for a long time but we haven’t gotten to that point yet. Will we ever get to that point?