A sad update to a story from the other day: contrary to early rumors that owner EA was simply going to slash staff at Pandemic Studios, news comes in now that the ten year old studio will be shut down entirely and all 200 staff laid off. This is the first of what’s sure to be many casualties, as EA has committed to reducing its workforce by 1,100 people in order to offset a nearly half-billion dollar loss over the last two quarters.
Pandemic started out strong, with titles like Full Spectrum Warrior, Mercenaries, and Destroy all Humans; in recent years a series of critical downers such as Mercenaries 2, Lord of the Rings: Conquest, and the canceled Dark Knight hurt their bottom line and reputation. Most recently, Pandemic was at work on The Saboteur, a visually intriguing open world WWII adventure set in Nazi-occupied Paris. EA has indicated that this property, along with Pandemic’s more lucrative franchises, will be handed off to another studio – possibly EA Tiburon.
The studio merged with Canadian RPG giant Bioware a few years ago, and shortly thereafter the duo were picked up by EA for a cool $800 million. Bioware’s safe from the publisher’s axe, riding high with Dragon Age and Mass Effect, but Pandemic wasn’t made of such teflon.
More layoff and closure announcements are expected from EA in the coming weeks.
UPDATE: Shacknews tells us that EA is not, in fact, shuttering the studio entirely, though it is laying off nearly the entire staff. A “core team” (that usually means about four people) will be relocated to EA Los Angeles and retain the Pandemic name… though it wouldn’t surprise me if this is only for as long as it takes to finish and ship The Saboteur, currently slated for 12/8.