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EA Montreal studio hit with staff downsizing

Electronic Arts has laid off an undisclosed number of employees from its Montreal-based mobile studio.

The company confirmed the layoffs, but declined to comment on the number of people impacted. Joystiq reported that 60 to 70 permanent employees, plus more than 100 contracted workers, were let go this week.

"EA is sharpening its focus to provide games for new platforms and mobile. In some cases, this involves reducing team sizes as we evolve into a more efficient organization," the spokesman said in a statement. "These are difficult decisions to let go of good people who have made important contributions to EA, and whenever possible we retain or relocate employees to new roles. Streamlining our operations will help ensure EA is bringing the best next-generation games to players around the world."

The changes shouldn't come as a surprise, following a tough month for EA. In early March, SimCity returned after a 10-year-hiatus to overloaded servers and angry players. EA tried to appease users by providing them with access to a free game for their troubles.

Amidst the gaming fallout, EA CEO John Riccitiello announced his resignation, effective 30 March. Riccitiello also left EA's board of directors; newly named executive chairman Larry Probst is overseeing the search for a permanent CEO.

In his departure letter to the company, which Joystiq published today, Riccitiello said, "My decision to leave EA is really all about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year." He made no mention of the SimCity debacle, but said that he is "100 percent accountable" for EA's money troubles.

These layoffs come only two months after a round of cuts to Electronic Arts' staff in Los Angeles and Montreal — part of a "console transition" ahead of the launch of Sony's PlayStation 4, Polygon reported in February.

The layoffs come shortly after EA won the title of "Worst Company in America" for the second consecutive year, based on Consumerist's annual poll.

COO Peter Moore addressed the poll last week, admitting that "we've made plenty of mistakes," like server shutdowns, fewer-than-expected games, pricing missteps, and the SimCity launch. "We owe gamers better performance than this," Moore said. "We can do better. We will do better."