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Layoffs at PopCap
Layoffs at PopCap
August 21, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

Electronic Arts-owned game developer PopCap has seen a round of layoffs that may include a considerable number of employees and the shuttering of one of its international studios.

The layoffs were confirmed by two PopCap employes on Twitter.

While Gamasutra has not been able to confirm this information with either PopCap or EA at press time, 3D Realms founder and industry insider George Broussard reports that PopCap's Dublin and Shanghai offices have either been shut down or reduced significantly, while the Seattle headquarters has lost some 50 employees.

It's unclear yet if PopCap's branches in San Francisco, Vancouver, Seoul, or Tokyo have been affected. Prior to the layoffs, PopCap had over 400 workers.

[Update: PopCap co-founder John Vechey has acknowledged the situation on the company's blog, noting that the company lost 50 people across its North American branches, most of which worked at the Seattle headquarters. In addition, he said PopCap is performing an “exploratory consultation" to determine whether it can maintain its office in Dublin.

Vechey added that PopCap had to reduce its staff so it could restructure its business around the free-to-play, social, and mobile markets: "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."

In addition to Vechey's statement, a PopCap representative confirmed to Gamasutra that the company's Shanghai offices were not affected by the layoffs.]

Electronic Arts purchased the Bejeweled developer last year in a deal valued as much as $1.3 billion, as the publisher looked to expand its mobile, social, and casual games footprint. The company has several titles currently under development, including a sequel to its popular game Plants vs. Zombies.

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David Serrano
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And now Pop Cap has learned what happens when you choose to dance with the devil.

Pavel Tumik
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Unfortunately only regular employees had to learn that, all execs are fine, I'm quite sure of it; and they have their golden parachutes in case of any troubles.

I think at this moment any sane employee whose company is being\or was acquired by EA should immediately polish his resume and look for another opportunity, as it is only a matter of time when axe will hit them.

Bioware next?

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Alyssa Gobelle
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Re: Pavel Tumik

Bioware has already been hit twice this year.

Allen Brooks
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Hopefully now that they've reduced their costs, PopCap can *finally* produce a game that can turn a profit. It's not easy being the underdogs.

Jody Hicks
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I pray that your being sarcastic. Bejeweled is beyond profitable. Pop-cap hasn't been an underdog for years.

Philip Wilson
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I think the more important question is why was there a Chinese office. That seems a little excessive for a studio that doesn't make traditional massive scope games.

Carlo Delallana
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China loves PvZ. Also, they had an "experimental" PvZ social game running on RenRen

Diana Hsu
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Yeah, China LOVES PvZ. There are PvZ plushies and other materials everywhere you go (all contraband, of course).

Neal Nellans
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I thought that Plants vs Zombies remains on the top 10 grossing in China iOS.

Steven Stadnicki
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I suspect that this is substantially less about EA than it is about Zynga; the casual marketplace is a completely different beast now than it was even 2-3 years ago, and while PopCap has been doing great work, it's not clear that their distribution and profit mechanisms are viable at this point for the company they were. Speaking personally, I fervently hope this works out for all concerned; it would be nice to have a 'good' alternative to Zynga in that particular market.

Marc-Andre Caron
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Could have something to do with the rumours of acquisition surrounding EA. Heck, I'd even say that these layoffs add a lot of credence to them. Making your cash cow lean and mean makes you a more interesting target.

Javier Arevalo
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I don't think a lean and mean cow sounds very attractive. :) But yeah focus on what works great and let go what doesn't work so great is a common approach. John Vechey describes growth plans which suggest a new direction, perhaps away from the 'Blitz' series and more back to 'full' games like PvZ. But it's all speculation.

Evan Combs
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When was the last time Popcap released a truly new game? (not sequel or port)

Kyle Redd
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They released Unpleasant Horse for iOS last year.

William Johnson
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EA: where great studios go to die.

Justin Lynch
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Wishing the best for all those that were laid off! Unfortunately news stories like this appear all too common in the industry, but it does seem like most people are able to end up at another company within a fairly short amount of time.

Jonathan Murphy
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Repackage the same $1 games at $20 or more in retail stores. Then expect to make profit. Afterall consumers are idiots who will pay 20x the original price. Wait... Customers aren't idiots?! Great Scott!

Alanna Kelly
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Glad I got the hell out of there (Dublin) in March.

The "exploratory consultation" is to make the politicians and quangos look good. It makes it look like they are attempting to save jobs they know are going down the drain.

David Pellas
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Sad news indeed. It's always hard to read about large numbers of industry folks being let go.

Good luck to all those affected by the layoffs.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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This is why, when contacted by recruiters, I tell them not to bother me with companies under the EA umbrella. This is why, when I was unemployed and my savings dwindling (I always use up my savings before filing for unemployment for reasons of personal ethics) and talked to the ex-tech director at my company who I got along well with and he said he was working at EA and could give me a very good reference, I still did not apply.