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PopCap Games lays off staff
PopCap Games lays off staff
March 13, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

March 13, 2014 | By Alex Wawro
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EA representatives have confirmed to Gamasutra that an unspecified number of PopCap Games employees lost their jobs today.

Company representatives have also confirmed reports that the layoffs have not affected PopCap HD, the team that developed the recently-release Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.

According to said EA representative, "the changes today were necessary to stay on course with PopCap’s plans for mobile games with live services and new IP."

In addition, the following statement regarding today's layoffs from PopCap general manager John Vechey has been provided to multiple outlets:

"The changes we made today at PopCap were painful and we're sorry to lose some of our friends and colleagues. But it was also necessary in order to stay on course with our future plans for mobile games, live services and new IP. PopCap is a studio that made its name building great games that the world can fall in love with, and that's what we'll continue to do."

Vechey is the last PopCap co-founder standing by the studio, after Jason Kapalka quit earlier this year.

If you have any further information about this news or were affected and want to share your story, please contact us via news@gamasutra.com.


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Comments


Brian Bartram
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Sympathy for those affected by the layoffs. We're hiring at FableLabs in SF - http://fablelabs.com/jobs

Alex Nichiporchik
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Seriously, what the hell is going on. Did we reach a bubble in the games industry, where AAA costs too much, and studios like PopCap are unable to make an effective transition?

Jed Hubic
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So if they always have a plan to stay on course like it's some big grand strategy, are they telling the employees this? To me the only thing that stings worse than all the firings from Irrational to PopCap, etc is the bullshit PR spin they always have. It makes it sound like it's some magical master plan, when in reality it's a bunch of idiots making bad decisions. Hope everyone lands on their feet, or starts their own big thing and makes companies like PopCap regret ever letting them go!

"Just to let you know, our course and company alignment will require us to fire you in two years. Welcome to aboard!"

Jonathan Murphy
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EA has been doing this song and dance for a decade. Buyout a company with promise, payout the top. Make them fill out a contract that entirely favors them. When sales don't reach their quotas(Didn't read that contract did ya?) fire the bottom half of the company. When the time is right shutter the company(Shoulda read that contract), claim full ownership of IP, and leave it to rot(Initial payout doesn't look good anymore?) until they need a cheap revenue boost. At one point they were annually laying off people during X-mas.

I have to question, who's the bigger fool? The company or the people who empower them? EA has won worst company in America 2 years running. There's always some truth in consumer outcry.

Dane MacMahon
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Yep.

My wife was a huge Popcap fan. She bought all their games for her laptop, which was a lot of games, and played them all the time. As soon as EA bought them I told her it was all over. She laughed at my cynicism but sure enough I don't think she's bought more than one or two of their games since, because they completely stopped making the PC casual games they became known for.

It's truly sad and ridiculous.

Jeff Alexander
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The market has dropped out of "the PC casual games they became known for". A company of PopCap's size can no longer stay in business making the kind of games that got it to that size in the first place. Please note that this remains true regardless of your personal feelings about what they're trying to make now, or how they're trying to sell it, or who ultimately made those decisions.

Dane MacMahon
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I have no personal feelings involved, I don't play those types of games. I know my wife loved playing them on her laptop and wishes she still could. Even their phone offerings aren't very robust as some kind of exchange, I think PvZ2 is the only one she has played.

E Zachary Knight
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So, If I am reading this right, it means that Plants vs Zombies 2 fell far below revenue projections and in order for the PopCap division to remain solvent, they need to fire a bunch of hardworking people.

Ken Love
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The game industry, as much as a lot of people don't want to believe, IMHO.. IS in a huge slump right now. Everyone and their sister are making games. With tools like Unity and what not, anyone can make a game, The market is completely flooded with 1000's of games. How do you make yours stand way above everyone else's. "That's a good question isn't it?"

People expect games to be free these days. "How do you make money off of that?" Monetize. Realize seriously though, that not everyone is gonna spend money doing that. "I don't." Why should I? There's essentially a zillion free apps out there that I can play 'till they start asking me to give 'em money. When that happens, I'll just move onto the next free app. I'm of the opinion that there are a lot of people like me. Most people won't spend a dime. That said… "I just don't know anymore."

AND.. Don't gimme' any crap about in-app advertising. That money train left the station awhile ago. The only way you're going to make any sort of significant money at all, is by forking out HUGE amounts of advertising dollars. AND.. most small groups, teams and or individuals cannot afford that. Only the big guys. And believe me… "They $pend."

People can sit here and talk about new ways of making money in mobile 'till they're blue in the face. The plain, simple and hard truth is that it's VERY very tough.

I read on here where this or that company just got 2, 4, 6 Million in funding. "That's nothing." Anyone that's been in the gaming industry for awhile and is worth their salt knows that you'll likely blow through that in no time at all.

So you'll make a few games with that money. "Great!" Just be prepared that when you launch your titles, there is no immediate "money faucet" that you'll be able to turn on. "It simply does not exist." Instead, what yer' gonna' get is a plugged-up faucet that goes drip.. drip.. drip..

To me the gaming industry these days, has the rotten stench of 1983 / 1984. I just think a lot of people don't want to say or admit to that. "I dunno' why." It's not a sacred thing.

Andrew Sega
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The wave of "too much content" has hit each industry in turn, delayed by how hard it is to produce content for each. Music is easy to make, so that industry got hit first. Then books. Now it's movies and games that are flooded with content. And, to make matters worse, people will continue to make content even if it's economically futile. Thus the bar just gets higher and higher, and people need to be either a) have huge marketing dollars, b) have a very unique niche, or c) have such superb execution that they get true organic virality.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Ken Love - "To me the gaming industry these days, has the rotten stench of 1983 / 1984. I just think a lot of people don't want to say or admit to that. "I dunno' why." It's not a sacred thing." Believe me when I say that I have noticed that months ago (perhaps, even longer than that) and I'm not afraid to admit that the videogame industry is in danger of getting into another market crash. So far, we have been fortunate that the videogame industry didn't crash for the second time, but I'm not so sure for how much longer this will be the case.

Ken Love
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Well put. I think ALOT of people are afraid to admit to this or something. Sort of a.. "If I say this, the my superiors and everyone in the industry will look down on me or somethin'."

I mean.. "It is what it is." If the kettle is Black. "The kettle is Black."

I'm not saying to not go and pursue your passion, I'm saying.. "Just don't expect the money floodgates to burst open." I don't see it.

As like with PopCap here, they've had a good run with a couple of hits here 'n' there. "Good for them." Now, they've got to find a way to stay alive. As like with many others, they've now got to figure out a way to quit bleeding money. Their immediate answer seems to be that of letting people go. Doing this, is sort-of an immediate bandaid, I think.

If / When things get better, then they'll likely staff-up again, but.. I think, in order for that to happen, they're gonna' need another big hit, real soon. Until then, a skeleton screw will have to do. The people left there will have to double-up and they'll just have make due with whatever they have.

I wonder if they've cut bagel / doughnut Friday's or catered din-din's or lunches have gone the way of the Dodo yet? Has the quality of coffee gone down? That sorta' stuff. That's usually part of the cost saving effect as well.

A couple of friends of mine are the founding fathers of the "real" Activision. Not that of the Robert Kotick Lack-A-Vision supreme silliness. I'll repeat here what they've told me many times over, because I truly believe it.

"Ready, here we go…"

.. "You're only as good as your last hit."

Get it? Got it? Good. ;-)

Ken Love
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I agree with you, Andrew. "Completely." The hits that exist today, in Mobile anyway, that I can see, are complete flukes. THAT… or they were introduced at just the right time when there was nothing else like them on the market.

Troy Walker
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so... they moved a solid IP to F2P, and didn't think people would mind and pay to play it somehow with a tricky time sink or wall?.. wow, that was delusional.


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