PopCap

Smart Casual - How PopCap conquered casual gaming

Graham Smith at

Following the news that PopCap has been purchased by EA. We've decided to bring you a feature on the mammoth casual games developer that originally ran in PC Gamer UK issue 220.

Sitting on the floor of Benaroya Hall in Seattle, I’m depressed as hell. I’ve come to the Casual Connect Conference 2010 to hear the makers of casual and social games share their ideas, but in three days of lectures I haven’t heard a single idea about games.

Instead they’re talking about how designers don’t matter. They’re talking about how psychological tricks can turn their audience into zombies. They’re talking about how to use metrics to better monetise your mum. This isn’t just the industry’s business men and women talking, either; these are the people who actually make the games. At a point in history when a new and huge mainstream audience is trying computer games for the first time, our ambassadors aren’t interested in talking about how to make something fun.

PopCap bought by EA for $750 million. Zombies "happy to serve"

Tom Senior at

The rumour pipes have been full of talk of a $1 billion deal between EA and PopCap for a few weeks. Now The Guardian report that EA are indeed buying PopCap, for a mere $750 million.

PopCap CEO David Roberts told the Guardian that a change in EA's culture was one of the reasons they decided to sell to the publisher. "We picked EA because they have recast their culture around making great digital games," he said. "By working with EA, we'll scale our games and services to deliver more social, mobile, casual fun to an even bigger, global audience."


PopCap for sale? EA rumoured to be making a $1 billion offer

Tom Senior at

There are strong rumours flying around suggesting that EA are in the late stages of negotiating a deal to buy up PopCap for a massive ONE BILLION dollars. Edge picked up a report from TechCrunch, who have been approached by two unnamed sources who say that Electronic Arts are about to spend 13% of its stock market value to buy up the casual games developer.


PopCap launch new indie label for "edgier" games

Tom Senior at

PopCap have announced the launch of 4th & Battery, a new experimental indie label for "smaller, simpler and sometimes edgier games." The label will be dedicated to releasing experimental PC, Facebook and iPhone games that are free of the long development times of PopCap's highly polished major titles like Plants vs. Zombies. The new label will also feature games for more mature audiences. The co-founder and CCO of PopCap, Jason Kapalka tells us to "expect weirdness."


Popcap's "PlayWave" will let you "Play while you eat"

Owen Hill at

Popcap Games have developed a microwave that includes a touchscreen and Wi-fi connection. The device will enable gamers to play some of Popcap's classic games while they cook.

Read on for the details.


Bejeweled 3 Review

Kim Richards at

I’ve been in a trance-like state for the last two hours, subconsciously creating rows of identically coloured gems and breathing in time to visual cues, while the sound of falling rain coerces me into a deep, meditative state. Bejeweled 3’s new Zen mode is remarkable.


Bejeweled 3 demo released

Tom Senior at

A couple of days ago Bejeweled 3 launched, at a quiet tea party in a London living room. Now there's a 60 minute trial available, so you can check out the glitzy match 3 puzzler without having to throw any money at it. The hour long trial is about 59 minutes more than is needed to get completely hooked on the game. It's available now on the PopCap site. The game's available to buy now from PopCap, Direct2Drive and Steam for $20 / £15.


Confessions of a Zuma Blitz obsessive

Kim Richards at

Right now, I should be writing about my terrible addiction to Zuma Blitz. Realistically, an article like this should take me no time at all. But it’s taken me four long hours to confess to you the depth of my obsession. Why? Because every time I write a sentence, I’m drawn back to my web browser and before I know it, I’ve clicked ‘Play Again’. ‘Research’, I mumble, over the sweet sound of plinking. Research into a basic colour-matching game that I’ve already sunk 30 hours into.


Bejeweled 3 is out, PopCap throw living room launch party

Tom Senior at

World of Warcraft players will be celebrating the release of Cataclysm tonight with an international series of glamorous midnight launch parties. PopCap have taken a cosier approach, hosting the Bejeweled 3 launch party in somebody's front room, with a fine selection of tea and biscuits.


Massive PopCap sale, all games half price

Tom Senior at

PopCap are holding a Thanksgiving winter sale, with all of their games selling for half price. That means a chance to scoop Plants vs Zombies, Peggle and Bejeweled 2 for almost $10 each.

The sale is set to run until November 29th over on the PopCap site. For an insight into inception and development of these games check out our interviews with George Fan on the making of Plants vs. Zombies, and Jason Kapalka on the inception on development of PopCap's most addictive opus, Peggle.

Yeah, we did just call Peggle an opus. Eat it, unicorn haters.


Video: our readers' best Peggle shots

Tom Francis at

Last weekend we ran a competition to send in a replay of your best shot in a Peggle game, with a large bounty of Peggle swag for our favourite. We've watched all the shots, recorded our favourites and made them into a quick highlights video. Overall winner after the clip.


The best gardens from our Plants vs Zombies swag giveaway

Tom Francis at

Over the weekend we ran a competition to take a screenshot of the coolest Plants vs Zombies garden you'd made, Zen or otherwise, with a massive haul of PvZ swag for the winner. Here are the best gardens we got, starting with the overall winner.


Win a bundle of Peggle loot: give us your best shot

PC Gamer at

If you've never wanted a tiny plushie Splork of your own, you haven't got that far in Peggle yet. Well, now you can get one of those, a Peggle mug, two Peggle badges, a Peggle mouse mat, a Peggle iPhone skin, Peggle, Peggle Nights, £30 of iTunes vouchers to buy Peggle and anything else on the iPhone, a bumper sticker reading XTRM FVR, and for some reason a bunch of Chuzzles.

All you have to do is save a replay of a great Peggle shot, zip it up, and post it on our forums. It can be Peggle Deluxe, Peggle Nights, or Peggle Extreme, but it probably has to be the PC version. We're not looking for the highest score, just that mix of style, skill and dumb luck that makes Peggle fun. Here's how to submit one.


Show us your garden, win a gargantuan pack of Plants vs Zombies swag

Tom Francis at

A huge wave of zombie loot is approaching! To round out PopCap week, we'd like to give away a few more awesome prizes. If you like Plants vs Zombies as much as we do, take a screenshot of the coolest or most interesting garden you've made and post it on our forums. Our favourite will win this mega-pack of awesome loot, including one of the best gaming T-shirts ever, a zombie figurine, and a goddamn apron. Here's what else you get.


The Making of Peggle

Graham Smith at

PopCap Games are the creators of Bejeweled, Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies, each of them one of the biggest and most lovable games on PC. When casual and social games are reaching ever larger audiences and their developers are getting a bad reputation for poor design practices, how have PopCap managed to find fans amongst gamers and grannies alike? To find out, I visited the studio and interviewed everyone I could find. We're running those interviews each day this week and calling it PopCap Week.

Today I'm speaking to PopCap co-founder Jason Kapalka and the designer of Peggle, Sukhbir Sidhub. It's only now when looking back at the transcript that I realise there are long periods when I don't ask any questions. Jason and Sukhbir have worked together for years, and it shows. They talk away without my intervention, revealing details of PopCap's forgotten first release, a strip poker game called Foxy Poker, and follow it up by going into detail about the many variants of Peggle, including a Thor-themed version called Thunderball, and what would have happened if co-founder John Vechey's mum had been PopCap's accountant.


PC Gamer UK December Issue - Warhammer: Dark Millennium Online

PC Gamer at

The latest issue of PC Gamer is a portal to a dark, grim future in which there is only war. Glorious, exciting war in which Man's greatest foes are sliced with chain swords, diced with chain axes, and shot in the face with massive guns. You'll be able to tell from the steely gaze of the Space Marine on our cover that this month is a Warhammer 40k special. We donned our biggest shoulder pads and braved the battlefields of the future, bringing back massive previews of Warhammer: Dark Millennium Online and Dawn of War 2: Retribution. You can read all the gory details by visiting your local magazine seller immediately, or if you're not yet convinced, read below for more tantalising nuggets.


George Fan and his cat on the making of Plants vs. Zombies

Graham Smith at

PopCap Games are the creators of Bejeweled, Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies, each of them one of the biggest and most lovable games on PC. When casual and social games are reaching ever larger audiences and their developers are getting a bad reputation for poor design practices, how have PopCap managed to find fans amongst gamers and grannies alike? To find out, I visited the studio and interviewed everyone I could find. We're running those interviews each day this week and calling it PopCap Week.

Today I'm speaking to George Fan, the designer of Plants vs. Zombies. Alongside a ton of incredibly early sketches from the game's development, George talks about his time working for Blizzard and PopCap simultaneously, PvZ's origins as a double-decker fish tank, and why he dressed as a zombie for the director of Dawn of the Dead. Also, a few words from his cat.


If you want a free copy of Bejeweled 2, get our newsletter

PC Gamer at

We're giving away 10,000 copies of Bejeweled 2 this evening. If you're hoping to get one, please go to your User Control Panel and make sure you're signed up to receive our newsletter. If that box isn't checked when we send them out, we're not allowed to e-mail you stuff like this, so you won't receive one. If you're not signed up to our community at all, of course, do that first - you're not too late. If you don't get an e-mail bang on 5pm GMT, don't fret, it takes a while send out this many e-mails.


Sign up to PC Gamer, get one of 10,000 free copies of Bejeweled 2

PC Gamer at

It's PopCap week here on PCGamer.com, kicking off with the first juicy details of Bejeweled 3. And as a special gift to those signed up to our site, we're giving away 10,000 copies of Bejeweled 2 - usually £14.99. All you have to do is be a registered member of our site at around 5pm tomorrow evening GMT (1pm EDT), and be signed up to receive our newsletter. If you've already signed up but aren't sure if you checked that box, you can find out and change your preference at your user control panel. Otherwise, sign up now - it's free.

You'll get an e-mail to the address you signed up with, containing your code and a link for where to use it. You won't need credit card details, just a name and e-mail address. The giveaway will work on a first come, first served basis, so once 10,000 people have snagged their copies, the offer will expire. Right now there's plenty for everyone, but we can't guarantee whether there will be by tomorrow.


Interview: John Vechey on founding PopCap, making Bejeweled

Graham Smith at

PopCap Games are the creators of Bejeweled, Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies, each of them one of the biggest and most lovable games on PC. When casual and social games are reaching ever larger audiences and their developers are getting a bad reputation for poor design practices, how have PopCap managed to find fans amongst gamers and grannies alike? To find out, I visited the studio and interviewed everyone I could find. We're running those interviews each day this week and calling it PopCap Week.

We begin with John Vechey. As one of PopCap's three co-founders, he's been with the company since the beginning and instrumental in growing the studio from three friends working from home, to a massive operation with hundreds of people. He also played a key role in developing the studios biggest game, Bejeweled. I spoke to him about when PopCap was originally named Sexy Action Cool, what he thinks Activision and EA are screwing up, and about where the idea for Bejeweled came from.