EA Sports Restructuring Costs Jobs, Changes Development Standards

The fallout from Electronic Arts cancelling NBA Elite ’11 continues. 1UP reports that the GMs positions for EA Canada and EA Tiburon have been eliminated, and that former EA Canada GM Moira Dang is no longer with the company (1UP later updated their report to state that former Tiburon head Phillip Holt is still with the company. He is reportedly weighing other internal options at this time). Furthermore, development of all EA Sports titles, instead of being directly handled by their respective studios, will instead be overlooked by one core team that will oversee each developer. This will mean that, instead of each studio being in charge of a game (I.E.: EA Canada in charge of NHL ’11), each franchise will have a general manager – described to 1UP as “captain of the ship” – in charge of it and reporting directly to SVP of EA Sports Andrew Wilson (I.E.: Ian Cummings will likely be the GM of the Madden franchise, and I’d put my money on Sean Ramjagsingh taking over NHL ’11).

Operation Sports had this to say about the change:

“This is a dramatic move and one which will have pretty big effects on how sports game resources are handled. It appears there will be more control from up top on how games are developed, which may or may not lead to more continuity within the company.

On a very practical scale, we probably won’t see much change initially. However, given the nugget of info about asset creation and sharing — I’m betting we see more crossover of titles either in concept or in practice.

Stay tuned as we keep on this pretty big news story.”

From an outsider’s view, the wrong people got axed. EA Canada has had a very solid reputation as a quality developer of its titles. The NHL and FIFA series took off under their stewardship, as did the final few years of Live, a series once assumed to be a dead franchise walking. I’m supposed to believe that this studio all of a sudden became incompetent, just this year? The demands on the NBA Elite team – which involved shoehorning the NHL controls that Creative Director David Littman oversaw into the context of basketball – were too much to hope for any sort of accomplishment in one year. NHL and FIFA ’11 were loaded with bugs. I don’t know how long Moira Dang has been in her position as the GM of EA Canada – stupid LinkedIn wants money now – but I do know she’s been with the company a very long time, with credits ranging as far back as NBA Live ’99.

I’d be looking above Ms. Dang if I was to start spreading blame. I think Peter Moore and Andrew Wilson have some answering to do.

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