Electronic Arts is to open a new development location in Los Angeles, consolidating its existing Las Vegas (Westwood), Irvine (EA Pacific) and LA operations into a single combined campus that will initially employ around 200 staff.

Although almost the entire EA Pacific team will be moving to the new LA location, and of course the existing LA studio - responsible for the best-selling Medal of Honor franchise - will remain intact, the worst hit studio will be Westwood. It's not known how many of the 100 staff from that studio will be moved to Los Angeles, but significant layoffs are expected.

Westwood is often credited with having invented the real-time strategy genre with ground breaking titles such as Dune II and Command & Conquer, but its most recent efforts - C&C Renegade and online spacefaring RPG Earth & Beyond - have both been commercial and critical disappointments. The latest title in the Command & Conquer series, Generals, has just finished development at EA Pacific, and development on the franchise will continue in the new EA Los Angeles campus.

Support for Earth & Beyond will continue despite the closure of the Westwood studio, with the support staff being moved to the largest EA development campus, Redwood Shores. As yet the only staff member confirmed as moving from Westwood to Los Angeles is Westwood founder Louis Castle.

EA plans to grow the Los Angeles studio into one of its biggest operations, with ambitious plans to expand the campus to 500 staff within the next two to three years - making it the second largest EA location in the world after Redwood Shores. The new campus is expected to be located in close proximity to the large movie studios in Los Angeles, most of which it will dwarf in terms of numbers of creative personnel.

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