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PopCap: The Complexity Of Being Casual
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PopCap: The Complexity Of Being Casual

June 20, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 7 Next

In terms of those dedicated "TV game" systems, have you considered making any of those dedicated handheld things? At first I assumed they weren't popular, but I actually see people playing them on the trains.

JV: I think we actually got a prototype for a dedicated little game device from a partner. It was manufactured in China, and there were little warnings on the prototypes -- so we could see what the device would be like -- that said, "This uses potentially poisonous materials. Wash your hands after use."

DR: After you touch it, yeah.

That's great.

JV: It was an exciting moment.

That doesn't necessarily answer the question, though.

JV: They were prototypes. They were something we were looking into.

That's true, but it could've been like, "And we're never doing it again!" (laughter)

Garth Chouteau: Three of our developers died from the poison, so we don't have that capability anymore!

JV: It turned Garth into a zombie.

Do you think that kind of device is better as a one-off, or a 20-in-1? What do you think is the sweet spot there?

JV: We don't know. I'm sure the people working on it have a theory and plan. I don't know what that is right now. I wish I did.

You had an existing relationship with Apple, because you had games on iTunes already. Did that make it easier to transition into proper iPhone development stuff?

DR: Apple's pretty compartmentalized, so in some sense it probably made it easier, but we weren't really at a particular advantage with any of the iPhone stuff. As everybody knows, they're obsessively secretive and careful about that. Internally, PopCap had a bunch of ex-Apple people who were running the ranks here, and I still don't think we had any more of an advantage.

But we do have a soft spot for Apple, so we committed to the iPod stuff. We did start on that one really early. We did start on that one. It's been great. That's been good for us, but it was a lot of work, to do the iPod stuff.

JV: And we had the first iPhone game -- the browser-based game -- with Bejeweled. We just kind of whipped it out because we thought it would be cool.

DR: That wasn't because of a special relationship with Apple.

JV: Yeah. It was funny, though, because our special relationship with Apple is that... I think Bejeweled is now on every single... you go to and go to the iPhone page, you will see pictures of Bejeweled. It's completely ubiquitous in their marketing.

At some point, someone said, "Ooh, that little gem game looks interesting. We're going to put it out and market it."

I've heard that iPod development was difficult. Are you going to continue to do iPod development as you go into iPhone? Because those markets are somewhat separate.

DR: We just shipped Peggle for iPod a few months ago, and it did great for us.

JV: We just updated our latest games.

DR: We updated a couple of our early games to be more compatible with the current design platform. Obviously, you have to understand what Apple's strategy is, to the extent of... their hardware strategy changes, and we follow their lead on that.

But right now, we don't see a reason to stop iPod development. It's a fun business for us. It gives us exposure to the kind of audience that probably wouldn't see our games otherwise. It's not just... I think the demographic of the iPod isn't just the young, hip kids. There's a pretty wide demographic there, and our company benefits from the exposure we get out of that with those games we have.

How is the iPhone development in comparison to...

GC: I don't think we can tell you.

JV: I know I don't know.

DR: I just don't know. My understanding is that it's a lot more like Mac development than certainly the iPod is.

JV: Yeah, I think it's pretty quick and easy.

Have you not started yet?

JV: We personally, no.

DR: We just sell them.

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 7 Next

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