Rumor: Mercenaries and The Saboteur Developer Pandemic Closing (Updated)

By Alice O'Connor, Nov 17, 2009 11:23am PST

Update 2: Studio owner Electronic Arts has chimed in, explaining that "a core team of Pandemic developers will move to EALA" and continue the Pandemic brand.

Update: "It's official, pandemic is shut down as of today," reads a tweet from Pandemic's Drew Marlowe. "Thankfully it looks like we are getting decent severance."

More details, including an official statement, are expected shortly.

Original: Rumours are circulating that Pandemic Studios--the Los Angeles-based developer of the Mercenaries series and The Saboteur--is to be closed as part of EA's $100 million cost-cutting plan, first reported by Kotaku.

The majority of the studio's two hundred-odd staff will reportedly be informed today that the development and publishing giant intends to lay them off.

Further rumours suggest that one Pandemic team may survive the layoffs and join the EA Los Angeles campus--itself rumoured to be facing cuts in the form of the Command & Conquer 4 team. Pandemic's website lists two mystery "current projects."

Pandemic's open-world shooter sequel Mercenaries 2 suffered a lengthy development with several delays, though as of October 2008 it had sold 1.9 million copies and then-EA publishing COO John Pleasants declared "there will be a Mercenaries 3, and if I can have anything to do with it, there will be a Mercenaries 10."

The developer's upcoming World War 2 open-world title The Saboteur has similarly had a bumpy journey, reportedly in development for four years and originally due to arrive in 2008 but now scheduled for a December 8 release on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Pandemic's Brisbane satellite studio--developer of the first two Destroy All Humans! games and a cancelled The Dark Knight movie tie-in game reportedly over-due and over-budget--was shut down in February during an earlier round of EA cuts.

EA acquired Pandemic along with Mass Effect developer BioWare in 2007 when it purchased the developers' parent company VG Holding Corp. for $860 million.

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