Layoffs Hit Plants vs. Zombies Developer PopCap
After twelve years in the industry (and one thus far under the umbrella of Electronic Arts), quirky developer PopCap has laid off approximately 50 people. Affected studios include the PopCap headquarters in Seattle, as well as the remote office in Dublin, Ireland. This news comes in wake of the studio’s announcement of a Plants vs. Zombies sequel slated for release in 2013.
The team (or EA) decided that a “reorganization” was in order, and that a “Reduction in Force” was necessary for the Seattle developer alongside an “exploratory consultation” of the Dublin office, as is mentioned in the company’s latest blog post.
“Reduction In Force” means that some people are losing their jobs,” mentioned PopCap Co-founder John Vechey.
““Exploratory consultation” means we’re talking to our Dublin team about the future of that office and whether we can find a path to improve our profitability in Europe without having to close the operation. Today’s news is something you expect periodically from a company in a fast-changing industry, but it sucks if you’re one of the people losing his or her job. These people are our friends and we don’t like doing this.”
Vechey went on to give context and reasoning for the decision, stating that without these harsh alterations to the company’s infrastructure, PopCap wouldn’t stay in business:
“A little context on why we’re making cuts in some areas while we’re investing and expanding in others: In the past year, we’ve seen a dramatic change in the way people play and pay for games. Free-to-play, social and mobile games have exploded in popularity. That happened fast. Surprisingly so. The change in consumer tastes requires us to reorganize our business and invest in new types of games on new platforms. It’s a completely different world from when we started.
There’s also an economic component to the reorganization. To stay in business, we need to manage costs, improve efficiency and maintain a profit. We’ve been able to invest in creative new games like Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies because we had a high profit business. That business is challenged, and if we don’t adapt, we won’t be able to invest in new IP. That sounds harsh – but if we don’t stay in business, no more plants, zombies, jewels, frogs or worms.”
Vechey also later mentioned that, were it not for the backing of EA, “the cuts would have been worse.”
The post closes with a heartfelt statement from Vechey:
“While today’s news is distressing in some ways, especially to those of us who’ve been with PopCap from the beginning, we’re sincerely excited about the company’s future prospects and committed to continuing to lovingly craft the very best and most broadly appealing video games in the world.”