PopCap has confirmed recent rumours, reporting over 50 employees at its HQ in Seattle and an unspecified number of staff in the company's Dublin studio have been laid off.
The developer's co-founder John Vechey posted on PopCap's blog earlier today explaining that while having to deal with this kind of situation for a company its size in the gaming industry is the nature of the beast, it's still pretty lame.
This morning we informed our employees about a reorganization in our studios that will include a Reduction In Force” in our North American operation – mostly in our headquarters here in Seattle – and an exploratory consultation” to evaluate the future of our PopCap office in Dublin, Ireland,” Vechey wrote.
And now in English: Reduction In Force” means that some people are losing their jobs. Exploratory consultation” means 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. 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.”
The refreshingly candid co-founder assured the reorganization wasn't a step back for the studio as well.
We've made hard decisions before, even had cuts before – at this time in North America there are about 50 people who will no longer work at PopCap. We've hired aggressively this past year and PopCap is still growing. Even with the cuts we expect to end the year with roughly the same number of people we started with.”
Vechey went on to add that the major reason behind such a restructuring was the surprisingly rapid growth in popularity for free-to-play, social, and mobile games. It's certainly something that has caught more companies than just PopCap off-guard.
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 reorganise 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 reorganisation. To stay in business, we need to manage costs, improve efficiency and maintain a profit.”
UPDATE: A PopCap spokesperson contacted MCV to contest the claims regarding its Dublin studio.
We were told: "The Dublin office has not shut and no staff have been laid off, as no decision has been made about the Dublin office at this time."
However, the press continues to speculate that the Dublin studio is under threat.