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There was a surprising casualty in yesterday's PopCap layoffs. George Fan is best known as the creator of one of PopCap's most endearing games: Plants vs Zombies. And although the company is moving ahead with a sequel to the game, according to a report by 1UP, Fan was part of yesterday's layoffs. (His LinkedIn page has not been updated, however.)
If Fan is no longer involved with Plants vs Zombies, it may explain the curious rumor that surfaced earlier--that the next iteration of the franchise would turn into a multiplayer shooter. While the original game was heralded for its simplicity, a look at Fan's GDC talk reveals how much design work and iteration was necessary to make the game as accessible as it is.
Daft and unlikely rumours about PopCap making a multiplayer shooter spin-off of Plants vs. Zombies were circulating earlier this month, causing the sensible to groan sceptically. Well, a sequel is officially coming, PopCap announced today, though there was no mention of shooty-shoots--or much else for that matter.
All PopCap would commit to was saying that it'll bring "new features, settings, and situations," including new plant and zombie types. It should launch in the first half of 2013, by late spring.
Platforms are unconfirmed, though expect it to hit just about everything. The original is on PC, Mac, XBLA, PlayStation 3, Vita, Nintendo DS, DSiWare, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7.
crullest curlie ungood time, and plantz grow dull roots," an actual proper real zombie said in the announcement. "So, we are meating you for brainz at yore house. No worry to skedule schedlue plan... we're freee anytime. We'll find you."
Let's all cross our fingers and hope those shooter rumours were as silly as they seemed, while we sing, "There's a zombie on your lawn..."
[This story's image and trailer from the original PvZ.]
The next Plants vs Zombies game may not be a tower defense fans would expect. Instead, the latest rumor suggests it will be a game unlike anything PopCap has ever done. Various signs and one unnamed source have indicated it could take the series in a multiplayer-action direction, possibly even as a first-person shooter.
It started with a handful of job openings. Supperannuation reported that the new PopCap team at EA Canada Burnaby's campus showed openings for a 3D animator and a multiplayer designer. The candidates are expected to have console experience, and the multiplayer designer is asked to have experience as a level designer on a shooter or action title. Finally, a world modeler asked for experience with "cartoon style and tone."
Then later, an unnamed source in the Canadian industry told Kotaku that the team is working on a multiplayer, first-person console shooter based in the Plants vs Zombies franchise. It may sound crazy, but it fits all the pieces we know. It does raise certain questions, though, like "what?" and "why?" and "how do you make an FPS with one team literally rooted to the ground?"
According to the report, the project will be submitted to PopCap for final approval later this month, at which point it could simply be taken off the company slate. So even if this rumor is true, the game might never see the light of day if PopCap or EA decides to nix it in these early stages. Shacknews has contacted EA and will update as more information becomes available.
Finally! PopCap has announced a brand new Plants vs. Zombies. Unfortunately, it's not the sequel we've been clamoring for. Instead of offering us a brand new game, PopCap has announced a spin-off app featuring the game's zany zombies.
"PvZ Presents: Talking Zombatar" is a free-to-play app for smartphones and tablets. Essentially a virtual pet simulator, Talking Zombatar will let you carry around your own zombie, dress him up as you'd like, and take photos of you and your zombie together.
Being a free-to-play title, of course, there will be a variety of accessories on sale at Crazy Dave's store. For example, you can buy sunglasses, hats, shoes, or buy full outfits to turn your zombie into an astronaut or a samurai. In addition to photos, you'll also be able to shoot videos with your zombie, and hear him repeat your words "in zombese." Finally, you'll be able to share all this stuff via Facebook and "other social channels that don't get mentioned as much." (Myspace integration, anyone?)
The app should be available "later this year."
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.