PopCap Lays Off Plants vs. Zombies Creator

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PopCap Lays Off Plants vs. Zombies Creator

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PopCap has laid off Plants vs. Zombies creator George Fan, the day after announcing a sequel to the game.

You may not know George Fan by name, but I guarantee you know his work. His is the brain behind Plants vs. Zombies, one of the most wildly successful "casual" games of all time, a tower defense title that began life in 2009 as a fairly typical PopCap PC release and is now available on pretty much every platform known to man. Sunflowers and zombies have become PopCap's most instantly recognizable flagship characters, and after releasing no less than three separate retail collector's editions, the studio finally announced on Monday that a sequel is in development.

Sadly, and kind of amazingly, the man who got the ball rolling won't be around to help with the follow-up. PopCap confirmed yesterday that it was in the process of laying off approximately 50 employees, and while it didn't name names at the time, included among them is Senior Game Designer and Plants vs. Zombies creator George Fan.

Any layoffs are regrettable, but cutting Fan from the lineup is particularly inexplicable. As Susan Arendt noted in a 2009 interview, Plants vs. Zombies was his baby from start to finish. And he was hardly a one-hit wonder, having also designed the 2002 PopCap hit Insaniquarium, which actually helped inspire Plants vs. Zombies.

The timing is ugly, coming on the heels of the Plants vs. Zombies 2 announcement as it does, and the specter of EA, which acquired PopCap a little over a year ago for $750 million, also looms large. PopCap claimed that EA had nothing to do with the layoffs and that without its financial support the cuts may have been even deeper, but that still leaves a couple of pretty big questions unanswered. Why George? And why now? Business is business, but this just does not look good.

Source: 1Up

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Par for the course with an EA business strategy.

  • Have wildly successful original IP
  • Announce sequal
  • Fire everyone who had something to do with the great first one
  • Dice up core gameplay in to tiny monetized bits
  • ????
  • Profit

Rinse and repeat until IP is dead and studio is bankrupt. Repeat process as necessary to appease eldrich gods that feed on the souls of dead game studios.

Announce Plants vs Zombies 2
Tell that the people who originally made the game won't be working on it.

One of the best ways to tell someone not to buy your game.

Talk about Brain drain!

KeyMaster45:
Par for the course with an EA business strategy.

  • Have wildly successful original IP
  • Announce sequal
  • Fire everyone who had something to do with the great first one
  • Dice up core gameplay in to tiny monetized bits
  • ????
  • Profit

Rinse and repeat until IP is dead and studio is bankrupt. Repeat process as necessary to appease eldrich gods that feed on the souls of dead game studios.

Stop it you're scaring me! *shudder*

InsaneAquarium was the one other popcap game I bought. I used to play the free version all day at workstudy. I might have put more hours into that than PvZ.

You would think that after 20 years of this happening that studios would learn that getting bought out by EA is like signing your studios death warrant along with all the IP's if you left them in the studios control.

Either way, as i understand it laying off isnt the same as fired. Though its not a good thing to come out a day after the announcement of PvZ2.

gigastar:
You would think that after 20 years of this happening that studios would learn that getting bought out by EA is like signing your studios death warrant along with all the IP's if you left them in the studios control.

Either way, as i understand it laying off isnt the same as fired. Though its not a good thing to come out a day after the announcement of PvZ2.

Being "laid off" is a nice way for companies to say that while you're an otherwise decent/excellent employee they need to fire you so that they don't lose their jobs.

This industry is really goddamn messed up. Small/medium studios need to stop selling themselves to EA, it only ends in tears.

Plants vs zombies 2

You have Peashooters, and regular zombies walk onto your lawn.

Simply sign into the EA Store with your new PvZ account to unlock the other plants and zombies with your credit card or paypal account!

On a side note, maybe its a British thing, but first thing I thought on seeing the headline 'Popcap lay off PvZ creator' was ..why are they harrassing him in the first place, and what's convinced them to ease off on the pressure? Shame it's a far more miserable tale.

Of all the batshit crazy news to come out of this industry, this is by far the batshit craziest. Though I congratulate Mr. Fan on escaping that sinking ship and wish him the best. Hopefully he'll start a studio of his own and release his awesome ideas there instead.

I used to like Popcap's games, but now I'm not sure what to think of them anymore
If only PvsZ2 could compensate

as long as they don't fire Crazy Dave...

"Hey, thank you for creating our most succesful game!. Now go away, EA is building a brothel and your office was on the way."

A tip to gaming companies: if you want to be succesful, don't get bought by EA.

KeyMaster45:
Par for the course with an EA business strategy.

  • Have wildly successful original IP
  • Announce sequal
  • Fire everyone who had something to do with the great first one
  • Dice up core gameplay in to tiny monetized bits
  • ????
  • Profit

Rinse and repeat until IP is dead and studio is bankrupt. Repeat process as necessary to appease eldrich gods that feed on the souls of dead game studios.

Don't forget "blame the original studio and fans for not supporting it."

duchaked:
as long as they don't fire Crazy Dave...

I don't think he works there so much as he stands in the parking lot, scaring the security guards too much to get removed.

This just seems to make no sense whatsoever. First of all, you'd think Fan would be WAY higher up on the pecking order in terms of layoffs seeing as how he created one of their most popular games. Second, why would they do this at the same time as announcing the sequel? They must have known there would be bad press, what poor timing.

I'm not saying it's EA.

But it's EA.

Given how good the EA-released Theme Park on iOS was, and how well it balanced the availability of features from the outset with the use of microtransactions, I see no reason to be concerned that the same won't be true for PvZ 2.

On the other hand, I may have just typed the exact opposite of what I'm thinking.

That, and it's probably still going to be an FPS...

This is easy.
1. He's high up on the food chain = makes more money.
2. EA's involved indirectly at best.
3. An announcement of Plants vs. Zombies 2 has been made = the ideas are out of Fan's head and onto paper.
4. Now there is no need for idea guy. Just coding monkeys.

The End

Well, I have too high of moral standards to purchase a game created in such despicable means. Although it pains me to know that it would only be a drop removed from the lake of this game's sales.

What's that smell? Is that you EA? >_>

offtopic: dish network captchas starting to annoy the crap out of me.

PopCap was profitable before being bought by EA... Their games are still popular. Hence they're probably not in trouble.

These are probably corporate 'efficiency' cuts, more than likely forced upon PopCap by EA so they become more 'streamlined.'

This is just EA being evil EA as usual, taking the ideas from everyone good, getting them to write them down in detail, and then firing them so they don't have to pay the person any more. Then they'll turn it into an 8 part series, with release-day DLC and always online DRM.

*Takes a deep breath*

ARRRRRRGH

Zachary Amaranth:

duchaked:
as long as they don't fire Crazy Dave...

I don't think he works there so much as he stands in the parking lot, scaring the security guards too much to get removed.

and now why would he do that I wonder......

.....yeah, is the gaming industry suddenly becoming more stupid in the past couple of days?

It's business and "that's great, but what have you done for me lately" is king. Can't sit around on past glories and he was probably quite expensive. If he's that good he'll just do things himself - the costs for ios/android game dev is low enough for a small start up. In fact - popcap might even have done him a huge favour.

duchaked:

Zachary Amaranth:

duchaked:
as long as they don't fire Crazy Dave...

I don't think he works there so much as he stands in the parking lot, scaring the security guards too much to get removed.

and now why would he do that I wonder......

Here's a hint...EA's banned plants in the area of their Headquarters. >.>

I like how they felt the need to mention that it wasn't EA's idea, because that's how bad EA's rep is.

PvZ wasn't really my sort of game but god damn was it cool.

What the balls?? Was he too successful? Did he require too much money? Was he that one that never gets use because he's too expensive, even if he is extremely useful, like the gatling peashooter? Sucks for that guy. But hey, PvZ 2? Schweet.

This is... an interesting kind of stupid...
I mean... announce the sequel to a ridiculously popular game and a few days later fire the brain-daddy of said game. That's like announcing the plan to become the world's greatest sprinter right before rearranging your own kneecaps with some well-placed crowbar hits.

But hey, what do I know about game development? If pressed for details, I'd probably say something about magic and fairy dust. Still boggles my mind that EA apparently would give the very same answer.

>Company sells itself to EA
>>EA is blamed for buying them

Oh internet. Your bias is so cute.

KeyMaster45:
Par for the course with an EA business strategy.

antipunt:
What's that smell? Is that you EA? >_>

offtopic: dish network captchas starting to annoy the crap out of me.

Agente L:
I'm not saying it's EA.

But it's EA.

Two-A:
"Hey, thank you for creating our most succesful game!. Now go away, EA is building a brothel and your office was on the way."

A tip to gaming companies: if you want to be succesful, don't get bought by EA.

PopCap claimed that EA had nothing to do with the layoffs and that without its financial support the cuts may have been even deeper."

I'm sure your collective conjecture and bias is more factual than the words of the company itself.

I reckon, give it a month, then George Fan will have a kickstarter project looking for money to start a moderately different zombie game :) - and he'd probably get the money too.

Frankly, I think he should take the chance to go indi, start a little team and target iOS and Android - I'd rather buy PvZ from a small indi team than EA anyway.

Boudica:

KeyMaster45:
Par for the course with an EA business strategy.

antipunt:
What's that smell? Is that you EA? >_>

offtopic: dish network captchas starting to annoy the crap out of me.

Agente L:
I'm not saying it's EA.

But it's EA.

Two-A:
"Hey, thank you for creating our most succesful game!. Now go away, EA is building a brothel and your office was on the way."

A tip to gaming companies: if you want to be succesful, don't get bought by EA.

PopCap claimed that EA had nothing to do with the layoffs and that without its financial support the cuts may have been even deeper."

I'm sure your collective conjecture and bias is more factual than the words of the company itself.

Hell, you NEVER talk bad about your parent company. They are the ones who, you know, fund your games.

They KNEW people would blame EA, so they said that.

This isn't even a conspirationist theory, it's pretty blatant. How a company with a ridiculously succesfull ipad/pc game (Plants vs Zombies, among other games) suddenly get lay-off shortly after being acquired by a publisher that is known to kill companies (Origin, Westwood, Bullfrog, Criterion, etc) left and right?

Agente L:

Boudica:

KeyMaster45:
Par for the course with an EA business strategy.

antipunt:
What's that smell? Is that you EA? >_>

offtopic: dish network captchas starting to annoy the crap out of me.

Agente L:
I'm not saying it's EA.

But it's EA.

Two-A:
"Hey, thank you for creating our most succesful game!. Now go away, EA is building a brothel and your office was on the way."

A tip to gaming companies: if you want to be succesful, don't get bought by EA.

PopCap claimed that EA had nothing to do with the layoffs and that without its financial support the cuts may have been even deeper."

I'm sure your collective conjecture and bias is more factual than the words of the company itself.

Hell, you NEVER talk bad about your parent company. They are the ones who, you know, fund your games.

They KNEW people would blame EA, so they said that.

This isn't even a conspirationist theory, it's pretty blatant. How a company with a ridiculously succesfull ipad/pc game (Plants vs Zombies, among other games) suddenly get lay-off shortly after being acquired by a publisher that is known to kill companies (Origin, Westwood, Bullfrog, Criterion, etc) left and right?

All those companies chose to sell themselves to EA (lolprostitutejoke). You make it sound like EA stole them lol.

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