Plants vs. Zombies studio CEO to retire

PopCap Games' longtime executive Dave Roberts stepping away from the Seattle studio after nearly nine years.

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Dave Roberts, CEO of Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled creator PopCap Games, is retiring and cofounder John Vechey will take over as general manager at the Seattle studio. The move was first reported by VentureBeat, which has heard from an unspecified source that the move will be effective January 8. Roberts joined PopCap in 2005.

"We wish Dave all the best. When Dave joined PopCap, we needed a business leader to help us bring structure to our creative chaos and set us on a sustainable path," Vechey said in a statement. "He has made a huge mark on PopCap, and we thank deeply him for it as he embraces his new adventure. I continue to be the most passionate believer in PopCap, and I'm excited and honored about taking over as PopCap."

Vechey will become the final remaining PopCap cofounder, as Jason Kapalka will also leave the studio when Roberts parts ways with the company. However, Kapalka will maintain a relationship with PopCap by working as a creative consultant for the company, VentureBeat says.

Electronic Arts purchased PopCap in 2011 as part of a deal worth an estimated $750 million. Speaking with VentureBeat, Vechey said PopCap is aware of the challenges it faces moving forward into 2014 and beyond.

"We need to get back to the place where we used to be and not just in mobile," Vechey said. You may remember Vechey as the man who emphatically jumped up and down on stage during EA's E3 2013 media briefing to announce Peggle 2.

He also pointed out that PopCap needs to invest more heavily in new franchise as a means to create properties that transport players back to the "glory" days of gaming.

"We have under-invested in new IP," he said. "Getting more new IP out per year is the goal. We want to formalize the creative process and get it to scale better."

PopCap recently released free-to-play game Plants vs. Zombies 2 and is currently working on the team-based console and PC shooter Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.

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