Jobs (as in work, not Steve ;) are dropping left and right in the games industry as the “big names” cut down on staff. Even Microsoft is slashing personnel.

According to Gamespot, “For the three months ending December 31, the company’s net income–aka profit–slipped from $4.70 billion, or $0.50 per share, in 2007 to $4.17 billion, or $0.47 per share, in 2008.”

So MS is going to dump about 5,000 employees, starting with today’s handing out of 1500 pink slips. That’s across all divisions, too. Maybe not Entertainment; I didn’t see that in the list. But when a company with that kind of money starts firing people, you know things are not good.

EA, which had previously announced cuts, is swinging its axe, too. The Orlando Sentinal reports that EA Tiburon, which does Madden NFL Football and Tiger Woods PGA Tour has suffered an undisclosed number of layoffs.

Maybe that’s understandable. EA Tiburon has a big staff, and from what I’ve read around the ‘net, Madden doesn’t change much from year to year. But it does have a dedicated fan base.

Another EA casualty is Vancouver-based studio Black Box, who do the Need for Speed games. The majority of the staff has been let go, although no numbers have been announced.

With these and other cuts, I wonder how much is actually “bloat”. Hiring more people when times were good for those big-budget projects. More than were actually needed.

And what will this mean for the next few years? Will the companies scale back on those big-budget “A titles”? Wouldn’t they have to? And will we see ever-less for the PC market, and much more for the consoles?

And, of course, we can expect even more milking of franchises. Even while EA is wielding the axe, they’re also announcing a number of new Spore games, including Spore for the Wii, a new one for the DS, and even a PC expansion called Spore Galactic Adventures. Will Wright isn’t hurting from any recession ;)

Microsoft deleting 5,000 jobs at Gamespot

Layoffs Hit EA Tiburon at Orlando Sentinel

EA Black Box Lays Off Majority of Staff at Gamasutra

EA Announces Multiple New Spore Franchise Games at Gamasutra