Just over a year after Electronic Arts agreed to pay up to $1.3 billion for PopCap Games, the maker of Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled is cutting staff and considering other cost-cutting moves such as the closure of its Dublin, Ireland office. About 50 people are losing their jobs, with most of the cuts occurring in Seattle where PopCap has been based for the past 12 years.
The company will employ about 550 worldwide after the layoffs. Prior to the announcement, about 350 people worked in Seattle.
“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,” wrote PopCap co-founder John Vechey in a blog post.
Vechey said in the post that PopCap has grown aggressively in the past year, and will likely finish the year with about the same number of staffers as it started 2012.
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.
The layoffs come amid speculation that PopCap’s parent, EA, could be a possible private equity buyout target. It’s not unusual for company’s to pare staff in front of an acquisition, though Vechey writes that the layoffs were “100 percent made by us, with no pressure from EA.”
“If we didn’t have EA behind us, the cuts would have been worse,” Vechey wrote.