Just yesterday, developer PopCap announced a follow up to Plants Vs. Zombies. Hours after that they announced the necessity to restructure their company and as a result 50 people no longer have jobs at PopCap. Late last night there were rumbles across the Internet and over Twitter about the PopCap layoffs, but now the developer’s co-founder, John Vechey, has explained the reasoning behind the job losses.
According to Vechey, the primary reason for shedding staff is that the industry has seen “dramatic change in the way people play and pay for games”. To PopCap’s surprise, these changes came about a lot faster than they were anticipating: “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.”
On top of the 50 staff let go in the US, PopCap is assessing the validity of keeping their Dublin studio open. At present the European offshoot is being subjected to “exploratory consultation”, which basically means they’re trying to figure out how to make the European PopCap presence more profitable without having to cull the Dublin studio.
Obviously Vechey also points towards a financial aspect to the reorganisation of PopCap. In the past, the developer has had a significant amount of money to spend on developing games like Plants Vs. Zombies and Peggle. Now, however, “that business is challenged,” according to Vechey, who explained that if PopCap doesn’t change they “won’t be able to invest in new IP”. That obviously would translate to “no more plants, zombies, jewels, frogs or worms”.
Before the anti-EA crowd appear to point fingers at PopCap’s owner, know that Vechey pre-empted your ire and vitriol: “The decision to reorganize was 100 percent made by us, with no pressure from EA… 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.”