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Playfish future in doubt as EA axes more Facebook games

Publisher declines to discuss future of London based social studio

EA is to terminate online operations of three additional Facebook games - The Sims Social, SimCity Social and Pet Society - after claiming that the activity of these titles has "fallen off".

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The corporation did not clarify whether the games were still profitable when EA decided to switch off their servers. The future of developer Playfish is also in doubt, while EA has also urged customers to spend their remaining virtual currency while the games remain open.

"EA will continue to deliver popular titles for Facebook, most notably games from PopCap, including Bejeweled Blitz, Solitaire Blitz and the recently-announced Plants vs. Zombies Adventures," the company said.

The decision comes weeks after the resignation of EA CEO John Riccitiello, and leaves studio Playfish with perhaps one active game to manage online.

The official Playfish website shows the studio had operated nine separate social and online games:

  • SimCity Social
  • The Sims Social
  • JetSet Secrets
  • PGA Tour Golf Challenge
  • MLB Superstars
  • Madden NFL Superstars
  • Madden Social
  • FIFA Superstars
  • Pet Society

All but one of these games is now scheduled for closure, or has already been switched off. The policy suggests that EA is reducing its investment in social games, but the corporation wouldn't be drawn into discussions regarding Playfish.

Asked by a Joystiq journalist of the studio's future, an EA representative said the firm "won't be commenting on the status of Playfish". A representative told CVG the company wouldn't be commenting further.

In November 2009, Electronic Arts purchased then-independent social firm Playfish in a deal worth at least $300 million.

Since then, three of the studio's co-founders who remained with EA (Sebastian de Halleux, Sam Lababidi and Kristian Stregerstale) have each departed from the business.

Meanwhile, Sims Social users have been asked to spend their remaining in-game currency quickly before the title closes down.

"Players are encouraged to spend their remaining balance of SimCash in The Sims Social before the game is retired on June 14th," the company said on an FAQ page.

"As of that date, any remaining SimCash left in the game will be invalid".

EA told customers to spend any additional virtual currency, such as a Playfish cash card, before they become invalid. This virtual currency can be purchased with real money, leaving some customers with no option but to spend the currency before the game closes.

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EA customer service centre in Galway

Last week, EA began a major layoff operation across its studios. Numbers were not confirmed but it was believed that more than 200 people were made redundant across a number of studios, including a mobile studio in Montreal.

Joystiq claims that the layoff operation affected a studio in London (Playfish is the only EA studio that resides in Britain's capital, but EA declined to discuss the matter).

On Monday it was announced that EA has shed "about 20" jobs from its Galway centre in Ireland - six months after announcing plans for major investment into the customer support centre that would create some 300 new jobs, in addition to the 200 already employed there.

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