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EA's PopCap downsizes, laying off 50 U.S. employees

The social and mobile gaming branch of Electronic Arts says it's cutting more than 10 percent of its headquarters staff and contemplating a complete shuttering of its Ireland office.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
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To avoid permanently getting rid of plants, zombies, jewels, frogs, or worms, gaming company PopCap announced today that it has to lay off 50 employees at its headquarters.

The social and mobile gaming arm of Electronic Arts that's known for games like Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies said it had to reevaluate its costs in order to keep up with the digital gaming world.

"The change in consumer tastes requires us to reorganize our business and invest in new types of games on new platforms," PopCap co-founder John Vechey wrote in a blog post today. "It's a completely different world from when we started."

Electronic Arts acquired PopCap last year for $750 million. The company was originally founded in 2000 and has since maintained roughly 400 employees. It offers games both as downloads and in retail stores, along with social games on Facebook, smartphones, and game consoles. PopCap is headquartered in Seattle but also has offices in Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Another possible downsizing that Vechey said the company is contemplating is the shuttering of its Dublin, Ireland, office, which has 90 employees. "We're talking to our Dublin team about the future of that office and whether we can find a path to improve our profitability in Europe without having to close the operation," he wrote.

The fact that EA is PopCap's parent company doesn't have to do with the decision to reorganize, Vechey said. He maintained that EA has allowed PopCap to operate independently and that some of the people being cut may be reassigned to new jobs within EA's studios.

This announcement comes just days after reports of a major corporate shakeup at the cloud gaming company OnLive, which resulted in a sudden firing all of its employees and an alleged prepping for bankruptcy filing. The company later confirmed that the company assets had been sold to an unnamed suitor and that it was in the process of rehiring many of its fired staff.

At PopCap, Vechey seemed to remain optimistic despite the cuts. He explained that the company aims to expand in some areas, while cutting in others.

"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," he wrote. "Part of making changes is to stay healthy and viable. Good companies don't wait to change until it's too late. We're growing quickly into new areas of mobile and social, and are expanding in new markets like Japan and China."