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Electronic Arts pulls plug on Tiberium game*

September 30, 2008 |  4:05 pm

Tiberium

Electronic Arts Inc. today canceled Tiberium, a spinoff of its popular Command & Conquer franchise of shooter games, and said it would lay off an unspecified number of employees at its Playa Vista office.

"The game was not on track to meet the high quality standards set by the team and by the EA Games Label," said EA spokeswoman Mariam Sughayer.

EA declined to say how many workers would be lose their jobs or how many employees had worked on the project. Sughayer said the Redwood City, Calif., developer would strive to place most of the affected workers into other EA projects. "This is not about cutting back financially," she said. "We still have tons of positions open, and we're hiring throughout the company."

Earlier this year, EA pushed back the launch of Tiberium to 2009. After spending more than a year developing the game, EA said it decided to cut its losses rather than put out a mediocre product that could mar the company's recent efforts to revitalize its reputation for producing high-quality titles in an increasingly crowded market for video games.

"There were fundamental problems with the design of the game, which the team struggled to correct," Sughayer said. "In the end, we didn't feel we can reach a higher level of quality with the time and resources left."

EA's shares gained 99 cents to $36.99 today after slipping $3.22, or 9%, on Monday amid the general stock market avalanche, especially among tech companies.

"The Command & Conquer brand has gotten stale over the years," said Jesse Divnich, director of analytical services at Electronic Entertainment Design and Research in San Diego, who said sales of the series had been dwindling.

Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities, said the decision to cancel a major title was a departure from previous practice at EA. "The old EA would have shoveled it out anyway," he said. "They're showing that they have the discipline to not throw good money after bad."

-- Alex Pham

Tiberium image by Electronic Arts

* Updated with comments from analysts.

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