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As one of the most recognizable casual game brands on the market, it's a surprise that this hasn't happened any sooner. PopCap has announced that it has finally finalized a number of licensing deals that will bring its properties to the non-digital world.
The first products to come out of this agreement will represent Plants vs Zombies. Bejeweled and other franchises will be adapted next year.
Jazzwares will create a series of plush toys, figures and "electronic accessories" including headphones, speakers, and device cases. Seen above: PvZ plushies.
Bioworld Merchandising will create apparel, headware, bags, and accessories. Pictured above: a PvZ wallet.
Trends International is developing calendars and posters. In addition, Walls360 will offer custom wall graphics. Funko! will be creating their own PvZ Pop! vinyl figures, and MjC International will create PvZ-themed adult sleepwear and boxers.
Queue the dramatic orchestral music. God of War is back, this time in a brand new prequel for the PS3: God of War: Ascension. Then, it appears Prey 2--feared to be canceled--has been delayed. But is there more to this story? Finally, everyone's favorite horticulture combat game gets a significant update.
Check out today's episode of Shacknews Daily.
While the titular plants and zombies of PopCap's Plants vs Zombies may get the most attention, Crazy Dave holds a dear place in our hearts. No longer content with selling over-priced seeds and fertilizer, Dave is pursuing a new career: rapper. (And given the economy, who can blame his moonlighting?)
PopCap has released his "first single" on iTunes today, and promises that all proceeds from the sale of the song will go to charity.
"Wabby Wabbo" is now available to download for 99 cents. It goes a little something like this:
All proceeds from the music purchase will go to Concern Worldwide, "an international humanitarian organization dedicated to tackling poverty and suffering in the world's poorest countries." The website lets you contribute directly--if Crazy Dave's tunes don't necessarily invoke your charitable ways.
Of course Plants vs. Zombies was coming to the PS Vita. Considering PopCap's penchant to port their games to every platform imaginable, the addictive game developer needed to have a game ready for the Vita launch in February.
Plants vs Zombies will be distributed via PlayStation Network for Vita, and apparently it looks just like the SOE-ported version for PlayStation 3.
Of course, unlike the PS3 version, PvZ will feature touch screen controls in addition to the standard button controls. There's also Vita-specific online leaderboards. Otherwise, IGN reports that you're getting "more of the same," adding "not that there's anything wrong with that."
Given the straightforward nature of this port, it's unsurprising that other Vita features aren't being taken advantage of. It appears that there's no cross-compatibility between the PS3 and Vita versions: no transfarring, no cloud saves, and sadly, no single purchase for both versions. The Vita version may offer one bonus, however: a Platinum trophy, which the original PS3 version lacked.
It must be a sign of the times and the increasing popularity of mobile games: PopCap has decided to revise its development process to start considering mobile interface options like touch from the very beginning. In a Gamasutra interview with senior producer of core IP Matt Johnston, he revealed that the company has had to rethink its design stages to make workflow and ports easier on the team for the long-term.
"We have a lead platform [for our unannounced game], but we're actually going to do something pretty different," he said, "which is we're going to build our game to be as accepting of the main, dominant input mechanisms out there. So we're going to build our game for platform A as the lead platform, but we're also going to build our game so that it also considers platform B, and that adaptation process is a little bit more smooth, and it's not as work-intensive."
Johnston says this new method should help the company bring out different versions of a game much faster, citing the long wait times between ports of Plants vs Zombies. He also mentioned that touch screen games are so pervasive, "you'd have to have your head in the sand to at least not consider."
PopCap's test-bed for experimental iPhone games, 4th & Battery, has also started influencing other areas. The company's recent Facebook title Pig Up! was clearly influenced by Unpleasant Horse, and Johnston isn't opposed to bringing that experimental sub-culture to other platforms.
Asked if they would consider 4th & Battery publishing non-iPhone games, he said, "We will eventually! It's actually our usual sort of platform philosophy, which is, we're going to make the game for the platform that makes the most sense." He says the games from 4th & Battery have just felt right on the iPhone, rather than a calculated marketing move. The label has been behind Unpleasant Horse and more recently the Make-a-Wish game Allied Star Police, both of which appeared free on the iPhone.
PopCap is planning on bringing two of its most popular casual games, Plants vs. Zombies and Peggle to Facebook "eventually." The ball got rolling when Games.com noticed a slide at an EA investor meeting that posed the two games under "Success on Facebook" next to planned EA games Risk: Factions and The Sims: Social.
The Escapist reports that PopCap's Garth Chouteau later confirmed the reports, but was hazy on the details. "Sure, they're coming to Facebook eventually," he said. "No timetable available yet, however." The word "eventually" doesn't sound like it will be terribly soon, so you might have to rely on old-fashioned methods of bragging to your friends about your zombie-killing abilities.
The slide calls the future outlook "strong" with these titles in tow, and it's hard to argue with the reasoning. Both PopCap titles have been hits on multiple platforms, and now that they've run their course offering free-to-play Facebook versions is a logical next step. EA is wasting no time putting their acquisition of PopCap to work, and hasn't broken anything yet. Fingers crossed.