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EA Memo Confirms Pandemic Consolidation, Van Caneghem Hire

An internal memo obtained by Gamasutra confirms layoffs and the closure of Pandemic's Westwood offices, with a "core IP team" consolidated into EALA -- where Might and Magic's Jon Van Caneghem has joined to lead the Command and Conquer brand
Mercenaries developer Pandemic is to close its physical doors in Westwood, with a core IP team consolidated into Electronic Arts' EA Los Angeles studio -- although its brand and franchises will continue. According to an internal memo obtained by Gamasutra, Pandemic founders Josh Resnick, Andrew Goldman, and Greg Borrud will leave the company. "A reduction in the work force at Pandemic" is being reported elsewhere at around 200 employees, with the remainder of the Pandemic team reporting to EALA's Sean Decker at the company's Playa Vista offices. The cuts are part of a new round of layoffs and restructuring EA recently announced as its second fiscal quarter saw its losses widen to $391 million; the publisher plans to cut 1,500 jobs by April 2010. EA says the studio consolidation is intended to "accelerate our transformation to a direct-to-consumer digital model, and to better manage our cost structure." Under the new model, EALA will become a "showcase for the 'fewer things better'" initiative, the memo continues, describing a "a re-invention of the Medal of Honor franchise with a new design that is simply stunning." It's also noted that Might and Magic creator Jon Van Caneghem, who recently "transitioned out" of his role as president of Trion World Networks, has joined EA to lead the Command and Conquer brand with "a new digital model that is going to re-ignite the fan base for this franchise." "I want to make it clear that the Pandemic brand and franchises will live on," writes EA SVP Nick Earl in the internal memo. "In the months ahead, we will announce plans for new games based on Pandemic franchises." Electronic Arts acquired Pandemic in October 2007, as part of its roughly $800 million acquisition of parent company VG Holding Corp, netting BioWare in the same deal. Pandemic has been a frequent target of closure rumors since the first round of deep staff cuts and restructuring hit EA studios last year. It has been developing Saboteur, the World War II title on whose status EA has remained largely quiet in recent months, but is apparently due out on December 8th. Similarly, EALA has also faced media scrutiny since the cancellation of its Tiberium project due to quality issues; its Medal of Honor: Airborne was also a high-profile disappointment. EA Games boss Frank Gibeau told Gamasutra late last year that the publisher has "high expectations" from the studio.

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