What We Hope From PopCap in the Future

What We Hope From PopCap in the Future

2011 marks the 10th anniversary of PopCap Games, one of the biggest names in casual game development. Maybe you’d like to celebrate by baking a cake encrusted with a scattered rainbow of jewels, each the size of your fist. Or maybe you’d rather whip up something more putrid and green, like the flesh of a zombie, or the stem of a plant.

PopCap Games’ CEO Dave Roberts talked to Forbes last month about the company’s past and its future. The article makes for an engaging read if you’re interested in the evolution of casual games: When PopCap released Bejeweled in 2001, online gaming was still a fledgling, and gaming through social platforms was unheard of. What’s in the queue for 2011? According to Roberts, PopCap is thinking of going public, though there’s no urgency over finding investors. Roberts seems happy enough to glide with PopCap’s decade of success for a while longer.

That doesn’t mean the company will be taking the year off, obviously: PopCap is on top of the casual games market, but competition is as fierce as ever. But like a game of Bejeweled, a few smart moves will yield substantial rewards.

For instance, most of planet Earth has played Plants vs. Zombies, so it’d be nice to get a sequel at some point–and it’d be nicer still if that sequel could see a simultaneous release across multiple platforms, including the PC, Xbox 360, Nintendo DSi/3DS, WiiWare, PlayStation 3, iOS, etc. There’s nothing wrong with offering the original Plants vs. Zombies as Nintendo DSiWare in 2011–it’s certainly a great game that everybody needs to play–but most folks who own a DSi have already played the game in one of its previous incarnations. Unless they’re a hardcore fan, they’re probably not going to download it again.

Next, Bejeweled 3 needs to come out on iOS in 2011. Also: Xbox 360, Nintendo DSi/3DS, WiiWare, etc. etc. etc.

Finally, a new Peggle needs to exist in every conceivable form.

All wishful thinking, of course. There’s no indication that PopCap is going to develop or release even one of these games, let alone all of them. When you think on it, though, that’s one of the company’s greatest strengths: It hasn’t yet squashed its beloved IPs into a grey, flavorless paste. Bejewled is still a joy, and even cynical zombie-haters can’t resist cracking a smile at Plants vs. Zombies.

Zynga is running its “Ville” series to death, whereas PopCap takes its time developing each release and lovingly polishes it before it goes live. Ten years since its conception, PopCap is still going strong. Will we be saying the same for Zynga in a decade?

Happy birthday, PopCap. No, we don’t want to force anything, but, y’know–vegetation. The undead. New game. But only if you’re up to it.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

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