by Whet Moser
The gamer blog Kotaku is reporting that Electronic Arts' Chicago branch is shutting down (h/t Miles), putting nearly 150 people out of work and calling into question the future of the Fight Night and Def Jam franchises. Sports games are pretty much all I play, which means I play a lot of EA games, since they have an unfortunate stranglehold on the medium (the Madden franchise is great, but their baseball games are mediocre and their monopoly destroyed the promising, wonderfully playable ASB franchise). So I can't tell you whether the loss of a rap fighting game or EA's upcoming Marvel superheroes fighting game is terrible or not, but I'm inclined to agree with the Slashdot commenter who wrote "It's strategies like this that ensure we have such original games from EA like [Famous Person] [Sport] 200X." Well, strategies like that and buyers like me.
People in the comments thread seem to be less disappointed about the loss of EA Chicago's products than the layoffs themselves and the demise of one of the city's biggest gaming employers. EA says they're offering relocation opportunities, but perhaps the best thing that can come out of it is an infusion of talent into the city's smaller studios, or some indie game design--after all, this is the city that built Halo.