EA Exec Explains PopCap Layoffs

Jhooud

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Nov 29, 2011
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Devoneaux said:
Typically, when a company is acquired by another company, this is sort of standard procedure. Trim fat and rid the acquisition of newly redundant staff.

I'm neither surprised nor disappointed.
Yeah, I'd agree with you. What they're describing in the article does make quite a bit of sense. There wouldn't be a point in having redundant back-office type operations after an acquisition. The communications snafu is odd, but might just have been a face-saving bit on Popcap's part. Not sure what the situation is behind letting Mr. Fan go, but there's likely something behind the scenes we don't know.
 

uncanny474

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Jan 20, 2011
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Ed130 said:
If you are bought by EA the company will be gutted like a fish and your IPs turned into unrecognisable zombies.
But Pop Cap's most recognizable IP was ALREADY a zombie!

OT: It's interesting that EA is pretty much giving up the pretense of niceness at this point and admitting that they exist only to kill developers. I mean, this quote is basically the PR equivalent of putting your pinkie to your mouth, stroking a cat, and demanding one million dollars in gold bars.
 

faefrost

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Devoneaux said:
Ed130 said:
I don't presume to know EA's reasons for canning Mr. Fan.

For all we know he could have been a problem to them.

What I can explain is why EA tends to contradict itself a times.

You see, Corporations are large sprawling entities. And in something like that (Especially with an overly bloated upper management i've heard EA has) communication is often pretty lax, so you'll often hear an important head say one thing when on the other end of the chain someone is saying the exact opposite.
You mean like "We are reducing our focus on social gaming in favor of things like mobile" while slashing and burning one of the most successful casual/mobile developers ever. One that never touched social gaming?

The impression one is left with is EA HR and legal really has no clue what it is that their acquired studios do or make. And therein lies much of the perceived problems with EA. Pretty much everything we have witnessed over the years screams of a truly out of control overbearing corporate bureaucracy that simply crushes newly acquired companies like this.

The higher ups at EA have a plan and buy out a small studio because they see something they like or need. It is then abandoned to the middle of EA's bureaucratic hell, where the lawyers and HR drones have no idea what the company does, no desire or reason to learn about and instead seek to make it fit in their world. And the developer gets their soul crushed while they get ripped to shreds by paperwork and bullplop.
 

Covarr

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May 29, 2009
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Andy Chalk said:
"So with PopCap, what we found is that there are some areas inside PopCap that were duplicative of what EA was doing; a lot of central resources, legal, business affairs, those types of things, so we accelerated the integration there," he continued. "We also looked at pivoting a little bit harder towards mobile and away from social, so we made some adjustments."
1. George Fan isn't legal, business affairs, or anything like that. He is creative staff. Your first argument does not apply.
2. Don't pivot away from social. You bought PopCap because they were good at social games. Why would you buy a company only to divert them to something they're not as experienced or skilled at?
3. Plants Vs Zombies is on mobile. I assume PvZ 2 will be as well. Is George Fan somehow not qualified to do what he's done well at in the past?

Here's what I think it boils down to. EA didn't buy PopCap because they were a good developer. They bought PopCap because they owned some good IPs. My best guess is that EA's own creative force is cheaper than PopCap's, and their primary aim is to emphasize pushing out samey sequels rather than making innovative new IPs like PopCap would've done in the past. In other words, the same thing EA and Activision always do.

P.S. Thanks

P.P.S. Does George Fan know Flash? If EA's just trying to purge all their Flash programmers and move to a less terrible platform, I'm down with that.
 

Johnson McGee

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Nov 16, 2009
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Sane company: let's buy this company doing 'X' and get them to do 'X' for us.

EA: let's start an 'X' division ourselves and buy this company to keep them from competing with us in 'X'. Maybe we can get some of them doing 'Y'.
 

Callate

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"...and then what we do is we look for where there's opportunities to integrate the companies - and then we accelerate," he said.
Right... "Accelerate" like a Dalek...

I'd just like some explanation of why the guy responsible for PopCap's biggest hit since Bejeweled was let go just before the company commenced work on its sequel. The timing of his departure with the rest of the layoffs seems peculiar, to say the least, and no less peculiar for EA's explanation. "Oh, you know, we just got rid of some redundant accounting and infrastructure people and (*cough* whisper) thearchitectofPopcap'sbreakoutcross-platformhit. Nothing to see, here..."

'Course, it's possible that we're getting a "shades of truth" thing here, where EA said, "You need to lose 'x' amount of payroll dollars from your budget" and PopCap got to choose where to drop the axe; the decision to make the cuts was PopCap's, even if the pressure came from on high.
 

elilupe

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Jun 1, 2009
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Devoneaux said:
weirdguy said:
Possibly, but folks like you need to recognize the difference between EA's crap and standard practice for corporations. When you acquire a new asset, you don't need things like a second legal team, so you get rid of it, MAYBE keep some and integrate them into your legal team if they're talented and so on.
I would agree with you, except for the fact that the people EA keeps firing when they acquire a new asset aren't redundant legal teams that would do the exact same thing as the legal team EA already has, they are creative teams that collaborated really well and created great games like Plants Versus Zombies and Peggle; games that no-one else had the exact combination of skills and creativity to create. In an industry where products are influenced greatly by the creativity and drive of the people behind them, the things EA does to great companies is terrible.
 

antipunt

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Jan 3, 2009
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OK. Where are you! That guy who called out all the people who said "this smells of EA" and claimed we were biased and inaccurate

>_>

<_<
 

Ed130 The Vanguard

(Insert witty quote here)
Sep 10, 2008
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uncanny474 said:
Ed130 said:
If you are bought by EA the company will be gutted like a fish and your IPs turned into unrecognisable zombies.
But Pop Cap's most recognizable IP was ALREADY a zombie!

OT: It's interesting that EA is pretty much giving up the pretense of niceness at this point and admitting that they exist only to kill developers. I mean, this quote is basically the PR equivalent of putting your pinkie to your mouth, stroking a cat, and demanding one million dollars in gold bars.
I'm glad someone caught that joke. Considering the rumours of a Plants vs Zombies FPS that appeared shortly before the squeal announcement, we now may have the first case of a Zombified Zombie.
 

CrazyCapnMorgan

Is not insane, just crazy >:)
Jan 5, 2011
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Ah, I see the amorphous blob that is EA has just squatted out another loaf after slowly digesting its helpless victims.

I'm just waiting to see the violent chemical reaction that will, eventually, be the dissolution and implosion of EA.
 

weirdee

Swamp Weather Balloon Gas
Apr 11, 2011
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Devoneaux said:
Possibly, but folks like you need to recognize the difference between EA's crap and standard practice for corporations. When you acquire a new asset, you don't need things like a second legal team, so you get rid of it, MAYBE keep some and integrate them into your legal team if they're talented and so on.
Yeah, but do you think the loss of those staff members is what people are complaining about? I think they are more focused on the staff that were integral to PvZ. After all, that was the loudest part of the headlines.
 

bafrali

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Mar 6, 2012
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Murdering creativity since the dawn of time. EA because world is a cruel place where you will be buried without your dreams.
 

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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weirdguy said:
Devoneaux said:
Possibly, but folks like you need to recognize the difference between EA's crap and standard practice for corporations. When you acquire a new asset, you don't need things like a second legal team, so you get rid of it, MAYBE keep some and integrate them into your legal team if they're talented and so on.
Yeah, but do you think the loss of those staff members is what people are complaining about? I think they are more focused on the staff that were integral to PvZ. After all, that was the loudest part of the headlines.
There could be any number of reasons for that having occurred. I won't pretend like I know what's what over at EA HQ.

It's possible that EA are stupid and have no idea what they're doing. It is equally possible that Mr. Fan did something to compromise his own position. We just don't really know either way.
 

weirdee

Swamp Weather Balloon Gas
Apr 11, 2011
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Devoneaux said:
There could be any number of reasons for that having occurred. I won't pretend like I know what's what over at EA HQ.

It's possible that EA are stupid and have no idea what they're doing. It is equally possible that Mr. Fan did something to compromise his own position. We just don't really know either way.
Benefit of the doubt or not, I'm still allowed to voice my concern that they are removing key developers of PvZ without any explanation beyond redundancy, which makes no sense without the context and is not satisfactory, unless we were to assume that doing so would somehow compromise their business standing while not telling the entire truth had an entirely justifiable reason, such as finding out that the released employees were in fact, extraterrestrials planning to use mind control through popular games.

Right now, what they have is a ticking bomb if PvZ2 does not retain the same level of satisfaction as the first game.
 

unstabLized

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Mar 9, 2012
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"Typically at EA what we do when we acquire a company is we make sure that we go slow initially and really understand the culture of the company that's now joining Electronic Arts, and then what we do is we look for where there's opportunities to integrate the companies - and then we accelerate."

Summarized, it means 5 mil unit sales or GTFO.

Hero in a half shell said:
Worgen said:
That kid from Malcolm in the middle is laying people off at popcap? What the hell?

(yeah yeah I know he... might not have or whatever, but damn does he look like Frankie Muniz or whatever)
I think he looks more like an ageing Harry Potter (it's the eyes!)
I agree. He does look like an old Harry Potter.
 

hooksashands

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Apr 11, 2010
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Devoneaux said:
weirdguy said:
Boudica said:
I don't know why Escapist bothers reporting on EA news anymore. The second the average forum goer sees the words Electronic and Arts they devolve into hate spewing regurgitators of the same few lines over and over, with no care at all for the actual contents and context of the report, but for the aforementioned words.
To be fair, they did just freaking lay off that guy who did the first PvZ so it's like, what logical reason would there be for that unless they somehow uploaded a copy of his brain into an android that was superior in every way to the original...

All they have to do is keep smiling while they slowly peel away the skin, then the muscles, and the bones and the organs, and by the time a valid complaint can be lodged, it's already hanging in the butcher's window. It's not as if they haven't already done it before. You act as if these concerns and yelling are completely unfounded.
Possibly, but folks like you need to recognize the difference between EA's crap and standard practice for corporations. When you acquire a new asset, you don't need things like a second legal team, so you get rid of it, MAYBE keep some and integrate them into your legal team if they're talented and so on.
That's like saying I should familiarize myself with the difference between loose stool and diarrhea. Massive layoffs or cutbacks due to a greedy publisher cannibalizing game studios left and right should not be standard practice. This is just one of the many reasons why EA was named Worst Company in America by The Consumerist. They even beat out Bank of America, who's mortgage people are some of the worst lot I've ever had to deal with. So no, "folks like me" don't need to go along with their crap and pretend they're doing anything positive for this industry by ripping apart jobs.
 

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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hooksashands said:
Bile bile bile
Corporate buyouts are actually fairly common in the corporate world regardless of industry.

As for cannibalizing studios left and right? Moot point, those studios were likely already on their last leg. If they wheren't then they wouldn't agree to sell themselves to EA and the like, because it would have been more financially beneficial to remain their own entity. Almost every studio EA buys up were in some type of financial trouble and would have probably died off far earlier if not for EA. People like to demonize EA, Activision and so on for destroying developers, but really all they do is give these developers who were already in the process of sinking a second chance with strings attached. A chance nobody else is capable of giving them. You can argue the effects of this, or if they even do it well, but that is all they are guilty of.
 

hooksashands

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Apr 11, 2010
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Devoneaux said:
Corporate buyouts are actually fairly common in the corporate world regardless of industry.
Not until 10 years ago they weren't. Software/developer buyouts only started happening en masse when our economy hit the dirt.

Devoneaux said:
As for cannibalizing studios left and right? Moot point, those studios were likely already on their last leg.
Um, no they aren't. Pandemic was doing fine until they were bought by EA. Then they release Mercenaries 3 and poof, goodbye.

Devoneaux said:
If they wheren't then they wouldn't agree to sell themselves to EA and the like, because it would have been more financially beneficial to remain their own entity. Almost every studio EA buys up were in some type of financial trouble and would have probably died off far earlier if not for EA.
So this is what it's like to talk to somonee who's been brainwashed. The fact that EA tries to pass itself as the sole videogame savior is terrifying enough without you going merrily along with their developer holocaust. There should be plenty of other options available to companies besides letting the bigger one gobble them up, otherwise things like Kickstarter would not exist.

Devoneaux said:
People like to demonize EA, Activision and so on for destroying developers, but really all they do is give these developers who were already in the process of sinking a second chance with strings attached.
No, they do a fine job of demonizing themselves. For fuck's sake, the evidence has been there all along. They don't give second chances, unless by "second chance" you mean "impossible deadlines" and "unfair workloads." Oh, and eventual "career deadends." Thanks to EA, we will never get to see another game from Hypnotix, NuFX, Phenomic, Bullfrog, Kesmai and Origin (now used as the name for their shitty delivery service). Kinda like if I killed one of your family members, stuffed their corpse, then asked you for money.

Devoneaux said:
A chance nobody else is capable of giving them. You can argue the effects of this, or if they even do it well, but that is all they are guilty of.
Yea, whatever. If this is their idea of how to run a business, I'd rather just watch AAA games die right now. Fuck EA. And fuck any company that buys up as many IPs as it can only to let them stagnate.
 

5t3v0

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Jan 15, 2011
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Worgen said:
That kid from Malcolm in the middle is laying people off at popcap? What the hell?

(yeah yeah I know he... might not have or whatever, but damn does he look like Frankie Muniz or whatever)
Cannot be unseen...