Earlier today, Gamefront had an anonymous source claiming PopCap Games, maker of the Plants vs. Zombies titles, had suffered a round of layoffs. Parent company Electronic Arts wouldn’t comment on the source’s number of 30 jobs lost, but did provide the site with a statement from PopCap GM and co-founder John Vechey confirming that some people had been let go:
“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.”
This isn’t the first time PopCap has suffered a reduction in headcount since it was purchased by EA in July 2011. Fifty employees were laid off from North American locations in August 2012, and the company’s Dublin studio was closed a month later.
The cuts come despite the success of Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time, and the more recent release of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, a fairly well-received effort to bring the battle between flora and the undead to living room consoles in the form of a multiplayer third-person shooter.
It’s fair to wonder if Garden Warfare would have even been made if PopCap wasn’t under the EA umbrella, but fans of the studio’s games can question other moves made over the last two and a half years even more. Would an independent PopCap have released PvZ 2 with the same kind of microtransactions on board? Would Peggle 2 still have been a timed exclusive for Microsoft’s consoles?
And what about the sub-brand 4th and Battery that PopCap announced three months before EA swooped in, then disappeared after just one game? It seems the only things PopCap’s parent company wants are extensions of what’s already proven to work (though Vechey’s statement at least mentioned a new IP), and as we learned today, even that’s not always enough to keep everyone on the team employed.