90 jobs lost as PopCap Games shuts Irish office


GAMES DEVELOPER PopCap Games is to close its Dublin office, with the loss of more than 90 jobs.

It is believed staff were informed of the decision yesterday afternoon. The move is in response to changes in the gaming industry and is part of a global restructuring of PopCap. IDA Ireland said it was in discussions with the company about alternative future employment projects.

The move comes as parent firm EA implemented a restructuring plan for the firm it bought a year ago. Also rumoured to be hit in the restructuring is Shanghai, and there was talk of 50 job losses at the company’s Seattle operations.

It is in sharp contrast to the end of 2011, when there were rumours that the US-based franchise managers were ramping up plans for the Dublin base.

Rumours of trouble at the games publisher began a few days ago on Twitter when Duke Nukem creator George Broussard posted about the possibility of layoffs at the firm. The company may also have been quietly reducing its headcount in recent months, reports claimed.

Despite this, however, there were still job vacancies being advertised on its website for all the affected studios, with the Dublin office seeking developers and software engineers.

Games publisher EA bought PopCap in July last year in a deal worth up to $1.3 billion as it moved to expand its social and casual gaming portfolio. The purchase price included $650 million in cash and $100 million in stock, with up to $550 million in performance-based payments.

PopCap specialises in casual games, with hits such as Bejeweled and Plants vs Zombies in its product portfolio. The company announced only days ago that it would unveil its sequel to the popular zombie game in spring 2013.

The company has operated in Ireland since 2006.

The news is a blow to the Government’s strategy to expand the digital games sector in Ireland.

General manager of PopCap Ireland Paul Breslin is involved with the Games Ireland industry group and chairs a group tasked with driving growth and job creation in the digital gaming sector. Its first meeting was held at the end of July.

About 2,000 people are currently employed in the games industry here, a figure that is hoped to grow considerably in the coming years. However, the decision to eliminate Popcap’s presence here is a major setback for the industry.