EA’s Facebook gaming arm cuts staff as users switch to phones

VIDEO game maker Electronic Arts (EA) announced yesterday its social gaming arm PopCap was cutting staff and looking at closing its office in Ireland, just a year after EA spent $1.3bn (£823m) on acquiring it.

PopCap, which makes easy-to-play games for Facebook and mobile phones, said 50 people at its Seattle and Vancouver studios would be laid off and that it was launching an “exploratory consultation” on the future of the 90-strong Dublin operation.

The move is the latest blow for developers of Facebook games after Farmville creator Zynga recorded a $22.8m loss last month.

“The change in consumer tastes requires us to reorganise our business and invest in new types of games on new platforms,” said PopCap co-founder John Vechey yesterday.

Facebook gaming companies have suffered as more users access the social network via mobile devices rather than computers. Zynga has also said that changes in Facebook’s algorithms have lured people away from established games.

Computer giant Sony also announced yesterday it was closing its game development studio in Liverpool. The studio, which worked on games including the Wipeout series, will relocate some staff to other offices.