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Game over for hundreds of EA employees

A day ahead of its third-quarter earnings call, the world's largest video game publisher said it's cutting 5 percent of its staff.

Electronic Arts, the world's largest video game publisher, on Wednesday confirmed reports that it is laying off 5 percent of its work force, or between 325 and 350 people.

The move, first reported by GameSpot, comes a day ahead of EA's release of its third-quarter earnings.

In late December, EA said its holiday sales were disappointing and that it would likely not meet its third-quarter sales and earning guidance.

But Wednesday, EA corporate communications manager Trudy Muller told CNET News.com that the layoffs were not related to holiday sales but were instead about realigning the company's resources as it grapples with the transition from current-generation to next-generation consoles.

Microsoft in November released its next-generation console, the Xbox 360, and both Sony and Nintendo are expected this year to launch new machines, the PlayStation 3 and the Revolution, respectively.

"It's not related to (game sales) performance," Muller said. "It's more reconciling the costs of learning new systems with what the needs of the new systems are. You realign your resources to figure out what your priorities are and then figure out how to execute them most efficiently."

Muller said the layoffs would affect the entire company, including its Redwood Shores, Calif., headquarters, and confirmed GameSpot's report that some employees at its Vancouver, British Columbia, and Tiburon, Calif., studios would lose their jobs.

But even as EA is dealing with sluggish sales and the console transition, it's also readying for the release of two big new titles. "The Godfather," a game based on the award-winning movies, is scheduled for a late-March release, while "Lord of the Rings, Battle for Middle-Earth II" is slated for a late February launch.