I’ve been a bit vague about all the details of my current job because there are aspects about it that I can’t reveal until probably around June. Nonetheless, I can say that I’m on the Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare team. As such, it’s my understanding since I was hired, I am the only person so far to have worked at PopCap Vancouver proper and also on be on the Garden Warfare team. It’s been interesting to compare and contrast the two teams from my unique perspective.
PopCap Vancouver was a very unique studio. We were a small group of perhaps 20+ people, spread across two teams. Originally, PopCap Vancouver was an independent studio that PopCap bought, changed their name, and brought them into the PopCap family. This was before EA bought PopCap themselves. PopCap Vancouver was much more PopCap than EA and I realized this quite quickly when I was first hired. First, my main e-mail address was a PopCap one. Sure, there was an EA e-mail alias that worked but I was considered a PopCap employee and my entry in the e-mail address book was not under EA Canada but in the PopCap section. Most of our IT and systems were administered by PopCap staff in Seattle. I remember asking for VPN access and that came through Seattle and not Burnaby. Indeed, when I connected, I was going through the PopCap network in Seattle and had no access to the network at EA Canada. Most importantly, I was also subject to the PopCap bonus and vacation structure. At PopCap, you’re given four weeks of vacation right away, no matter if you’re a junior engineer or a senior art director. I remember thinking that I instantly had more vacation than several of my more senior former co-workers out in Burnaby. PopCap also gave out quarterly bonuses, which was something unique within the family of EA studios. I’m not sure if they still do that but it was great getting that one quarterly bonus… lol. Overall, my entire time I was at PopCap Vancouver, I felt like a PopCap employee through and through, with a slight acknowledgement that EA owned us overall.
On my current team, things are a bit different, even though we work with the most successful and popular intellectual property that PopCap has ever produced. First, no one has a PopCap e-mail address. We all have standard EA e-mail addresses. All of our systems and network access goes through the EA Canada. We really don’t have access to the PopCap network, nor do we need to on a daily basis. Even though I’m a TFT and I don’t get bonuses, my regular full-time co-workers are still subject to the EA Canada bonus structure. The vacation policy is also the EA Canada one. No four weeks of vacation for everyone. From an organizational standpoint, we are definitely EA Canada employees who just happen to work on a game that has PopCap intellectual property.