In a strategic move to streamline operations, Electronic Arts (EA) has announced the cancellation of an eagerly anticipated Star Wars first-person shooter, currently in early development. Simultaneously, the gaming giant is set to lay off around 670 employees globally, constituting 5% of its workforce. This decision adds to the wave of job cuts reverberating through the gaming industry.

Facing challenges in securing funding for new game studios, industry experts, including Rich Barham, a former executive at Blizzard, express concerns about the potential loss of top talent in the gaming sector. The ongoing trend of mass layoffs, exemplified by Microsoft’s plans to cut 1,900 positions in its gaming division and Sony’s decision to axe 900 staff, signals a turbulent period for the industry.

EA CEO Andrew Wilson, in a letter to staff, disclosed that the company had initiated contact with affected employees, with the redundancies expected to be finalised by summer. Wilson emphasised a strategic shift towards developing fewer new titles, sunsetting certain games, and moving away from the development of future licensed intellectual property that doesn’t align with the evolving industry landscape.

Laura Miele, EA’s entertainment boss, explained in a subsequent email that this restructuring led to the cancellation of the Star Wars title being developed by subsidiary Respawn Entertainment. Respawn, known for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, faced the setback despite the game receiving “generally favourable” reviews on Metacritic. Miele highlighted the difficulty of walking away from a project but clarified that the decision does not diminish the team’s talent, tenacity, or passion.

These industry-wide layoffs have drawn attention to the human impact within the gaming community. Sarah Stevens, head of gaming HR firm e-volveHR, emphasised the importance of humanity and kindness during these challenging times. As the gaming industry witnesses increasing competition, Karol Severin, senior analyst at Midia Research, sees this as a sign of maturity, where efficiency, profitability, and competitive capabilities become paramount.

Severin also provided insights into the industry’s financial outlook, stating that despite the recent cuts, the games industry remains robust, projecting a growth of approximately US$78 billion by 2030. This optimistic outlook, amounting to a US$223 billion industry, underscores the resilience of the gaming sector, which, for context, surpasses the current size of the entire global recorded music industry. As the industry navigates this new chapter, the focus on strategic efficiency and competitive edge appears pivotal for sustained success.