'Plants vs. Zombies' developer PopCap hit with layoffs
PopCap Games today laid off about 50 people from their North American offices and are reexamining the future of their Dublin team, studio co-founder John Vechey announced today.
The news comes the day after the company announced the much-anticipated sequel to Plants vs. Zombies, an irony noted in Vechey's blog post about the job cuts.
"We've made hard decisions before, even had cuts before – at this time in North America there are about 50 people who will no longer work at PopCap," Vechy said. "We've hired aggressively this past year and PopCap is still growing. Even with the cuts we expect to end the year with roughly the same number of people we started with."
Vechy cited seeing a "dramatic change" in the way people game, noting the currently popularity of free-to-play, social, and mobile games, as the reason for the company's reorganization. The company was able to invest in games like Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies due to high profits.
"That business is challenged, and if we don't adapt, we won't be able to invest in new IP," said Vechy, saying PopCap needed to manage cost and improve efficiency in order to remain in business.
Vechy also addressed concerns that EA may have been behind the cuts.
"One year ago, we decided to integrate PopCap with EA," Vechy said. "I know I wouldn't choose to be anywhere else right now. EA has provided a lot of resources for us to grow and allowed us to operate as an independent studio. I've seen speculation that EA is no longer letting PopCap run independently, and that's simply not true. The founders, CEO, and executives who were in charge of PopCap still are. The decision to reorganize was 100 percent made by us, with no pressure from EA. EA has a diverse business with games on consoles, PCs and practically every other platform under the sun. We're glad to have those resources supporting us when a lot of other independent studios are struggling. In addition, some of the people affected by the reorganization may be retrained and reassigned to other jobs in the EA studios. If we didn't have EA behind us, the cuts would have been worse."
EA purchased the Plants vs. Zombies developer in July 2011, paying "approximately $650 million in cash and $100 million in shares of EA common stock," with the total acquisition price as high as $1.3 billion.Yesterday the company announced Plants vs. Zombies 2, a sequel to the original title, for release in late spring of 2013.
Vechy wrapped up his open letter by mentioning PopCap's growth in mobile and social gaming and its expansion into the Japanese and Chinese markets. A representative from the company told Polygon that despite reports to the contrary, its Shanghai office was not affected by the reorganization.