This month, casual game developer and publisher PopCap Games (Bejeweled, Peggle) has opened a Shanghai development office to serve the Asian market.
PopCap senior business development executive James Gwertzman has accepted the role of vice president of Asia/Pacific for PopCap and has relocated to Shanghai. PopCap had previously been operating in Asia, but had not maintained a permanent location in the region.
The branch will complement existing staff in Korea and Singapore, as well as a Japanese distribution deal with Square Enix.
The Shanghai office will develop games targeted directly at the Asian market, which PopCap claims has traditionally been an elusive audience for the casual segment given the "significant differences in the playing habits and expectations of Asian consumers." Existing PopCap games will also be localized.
Gwertzman cited the size of the market as the catalyst for the move, but noted that PopCap's Asian staff will see challenges. "With more than 400 million Internet users, the wired population of Asia is bigger than that of either North America or Europe, and casual games are very popular throughout the region," he said.
"We’ve had a modest ‘stealth’ presence in the area for two years now, but now we’re ready to open a fully-staffed office. We have enough confidence in our strategy to make a sizable investment, but we’re humble enough to realize that these are very different markets, and so we have designed our organization here first and foremost to be nimble and flexible."