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."
Unpleasant Horse, Plants vs Zombies
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 was recently acquired by Electronic Arts. Beyond touch games, it plans on bringing more games to Facebook, such as Plants vs. Zombies and Peggle..