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EA exec tells worried staff: 'We're going to survive this'

As axe falls on 1,100 jobs worldwide, Redwood Shores boss Glen Schofield reveals how staff were told to believe in the strength of the "big, big brand"

Large-scale redundancies are a grim reality of the current economic crisis, but while it receives far less exposure, preserving morale amongst remaining staff is proving an arduous challenge for employers.

Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz, EA executive Glen Schofield has offered a rare insight into the personnel issues faced by the publisher, in the wake of the sweeping cuts the firm has made to its global workforce.

Describing the moment when he had to go to his own team after redundancies were made, Schofield, general manager of EA's Redwood Shores studio, said: "Well, it's not the easiest job in the world. That day I got the whole studio together and just stood up in front of them as said, 'Let's talk'."

"I said, look, I can't tell you if this is the end or not, but we're making some great games here. If we continue to make great games, if we continue to push this, we're not going to lose our jobs. Because we're making great stuff."

Most recently, the studio was responsible for sci-fi horror title Dead Space, a new IP that was critically acclaimed but failed to meet the company's sales projections. However, despite the weak performance of new products, including Mirror's Edge, senior management has pledged to back quality and work hard to build franchises.

"People who aren't making great games are going to lose their jobs," said Schofield . "But if you're making quality and we continue to push on that, and you're a quality person then you're going to keep your job."

However, he acknowledged that some degree of fear amongst staff was unavoidable and something that had to be faced up to.

"Morale seems to be... We're not hiding it; we're not being elusive about it. We're trying to be open and honest with our discussions with people, and if they want to ask questions and I can answer them, that's the best I can give them," he explained.

"I think the fact that it's happening all over the world, and that it's happening in every industry, makes it a little easier because you say, look guys, we still have a job, EA's a big brand and it's a great company – we're going to survive this. We're looking to fix things. And they realise that: it's a big, big brand."

Schofield further revealed that he took comfort from the models of other corporate giants in the technology sector, previously forced into painful periods of restructuring.

"IBM had a tough time about 10 years ago," he noted. "They sort of reinvented themselves and now they're great again. Intel, all these companies have done it. I'm convinced EA's going to do it."

EA reported losses of USD 641m for its third quarter earlier this month, with plans to shed 1,100 jobs as part of a global restructuring of operations.

EA Redwood Shores is working on Godfather II, due out in April, and action title Dante's Inferno, coming in 2010.

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