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Layoffs at PopCap

The EA-owned Bejeweled maker let go a substantial amount of employees today, and may be dramatically shrinking at least one of its international studios. [Update: Company co-founder responds.]
Electronic Arts-owned game developer PopCap has seen a round of layoffs that may include a considerable number of employees and the shuttering of one of its international studios. The layoffs were confirmed by two PopCap employes on Twitter. While Gamasutra has not been able to confirm this information with either PopCap or EA at press time, 3D Realms founder and industry insider George Broussard reports that PopCap's Dublin and Shanghai offices have either been shut down or reduced significantly, while the Seattle headquarters has lost some 50 employees. It's unclear yet if PopCap's branches in San Francisco, Vancouver, Seoul, or Tokyo have been affected. Prior to the layoffs, PopCap had over 400 workers. [Update: PopCap co-founder John Vechey has acknowledged the situation on the company's blog, noting that the company lost 50 people across its North American branches, most of which worked at the Seattle headquarters. In addition, he said PopCap is performing an “exploratory consultation" to determine whether it can maintain its office in Dublin. Vechey added that PopCap had to reduce its staff so it could restructure its business around the free-to-play, social, and mobile markets: "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." In addition to Vechey's statement, a PopCap representative confirmed to Gamasutra that the company's Shanghai offices were not affected by the layoffs.] Electronic Arts purchased the Bejeweled developer last year in a deal valued as much as $1.3 billion, as the publisher looked to expand its mobile, social, and casual games footprint. The company has several titles currently under development, including a sequel to its popular game Plants vs. Zombies.

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