PopCap is heading to Korea, and taking with them their first online multiplayer social game service, thanks to NCsoft. The new platform - the awesomely titled PopCap World - will be the first project developed and released by the developer's new Shanghai game studio, marking a pretty major milestone for the company's social and online strategies.
PopCap World will be operated by NCsoft, and will launch with 13 of PopCap's award-winning games including Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled, Zuma, and an all-new multiplayer offering, Super Zuma, which is being created just for the Koreans. At this stage, all of the games will be free-to-play online, but optional premium elements will be made available later.
James Gwertzman, PopCap's Vice President for Asia/Pacific, explains:
"When Disneyland first opened, it revolutionized the amusement park industry and ushered in the era of the modern theme park. In the same way, we believe PopCap World has the potential to redefine casual games in Korea and beyond by offering players the most immersive PopCap experience yet."
...I'm not the only one who wishes that PopCap World was a real, physical place, right? You could wander through a beautifully manicured garden and avoid the undead, look at sparkling renditions of precious stones perfectly grouped in threes, and maybe try your luck throwing marbles at tropical frogs. Perhaps they'd even let you travel around the park on one of my personal favourite PopCap games, the sadly-retired Candy Train!
Anyway. PopCap is pretty widely considered (or blamed) as one of the earliest icons of the casual games industry. The past 10 years have seen the company make great innovations in various gaming genres, and continue to grow and adapt to a wide-ranging variety of new technologies.
The company's flagship title, the grandaddy of them all, Bejeweled has sold more than 50 million units across all platforms. Their first iPhone release, Bejeweled 2 has been consistently in the top 20 apps for more than two years since launch - and their first social game, Bejeweled Blitz (noticing a theme?) has more than 4 million daily active users. It's expected that PopCap World will only build on these successes, tapping into the elusive Korean market, and continuing the inevitable spread of casual games across the planet.
I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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Jimmy the Geek