Just as the console giants regularly battle it out for third-party exclusive games, the kingpins of mobile are turning their sights on game developers as they look to widen their market share.
Surprisingly, many of the most unexpected crossovers happen in the board game world. Merchandising gone wrong, or bafflingly wonderful merger? That depends on how much you spent on the thing, probably. Here are some of the more magnificent recent oddities.
PopCap Games has announced a sequel to its monster hit Plants vs.Zombies. It’s currently planned for a late spring 2013 release.
[Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris talks to PopCap CEO David Roberts about the rise of casual gaming, the possibility of an initial public offering for the company later this year, and why Bejeweled’s popularity rises from the fact that “good games are good games.”]
PopCap Games, to borrow (and slightly mangle) a phrase from Barbara Mandrell, was casual when casual wasn’t cool.
Long before companies like Rovio and Zynga were dominating headlines, the Seattle-based development house was building a loyal following with titles like Bejeweled and Bookworm. And that gives it some perspective in this fast-growing market.
We certainly have no problem getting caught up in the fun of playing games, but the people who create them have their pocketbooks to worry about, too. In this column, finance expert and GameSpy contributor Chris Morris guides you through the tricky corridors the gaming industry’s financial side, touching on big-time business decisions and how they matter to the common gamer.
Change is on the way for casual games titan PopCap Games. The question is: What sort of change?
Investors in the video game space are hoping it will be the odds-on favorite: A public offering by the beloved independent game company. But with all the cash floating around the video game space these days, no one is ruling out a takeover.
PopCap Games, known for such titles as “Bejeweled,” “Bookworm” and “Plants vs. Zombies,” is mulling an IPO. And while a casual game company might seem an unlikely contender to go public, this one boasts both a rabidly loyal audience (that often buys multiple copies of its titles on multiple platforms) and steady revenue growth. As a result, it has been on Wall Street’s radar for a while now.
There’s a reason Plants vs. Zombies is such a popular tower-defense game. It’s goofy, genuinely funny, and the gameplay is rock solid. Whether you play for minutes or hours, you’ll walk away happy. What the Nintendo DS version adds is a collection of new achievements (such as blow up 10 zombies with a single cherry bomb and beat a night level without picking up any sun) and four exclusive mini-games. They’re all enjoyable diversions, but ultimately, it’s the main game that’s the most fun. The DS does, however, add a terrifically entertaining two-player versus mode for players in the same room.
The DS version suffers on two levels, though. Because there’s so much going on onscreen with Plants vs. Zombies, the DS screen size is often overcrowded, which can make it hard to see everything happening at once. Also, with the iPhone version costing just $3.99, the $20 price tag on the DS version seems excessive. That said, the game is just as addictive now as it was when it was first released for the PC in 2009.
[Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris examines PopCap’s potential plans to IPO later this year, quizzing analysts from M2 and Arcadia on the pluses and minuses of a public Plants Vs. Zombies creator.]
The news that PopCap Games is considering a public offering is the stuff that gets the money wonks of the video game industry all atwitter. An indie darling, who leveraged the try-before-you-buy shareware model into multiplatform success? What’s not to love?
While you won’t find people betting against PopCap if the company does decide to make a formal filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, that’s not to say every analyst thinks the move is necessarily the right one for the company.
Instead, PopCap Games is partnering with NCsoft to create an online multiplayer social game service in Korea. The service will offer 13 free-to-play games with optional paid elements in the queue for the coming months.