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Friday, August 22, 2008

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Bejeweled: More Than 25 Million Copies Sold
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 11 comments

PopCap Games, a popular developer and publisher of casual games, recently provided updated statistics on its flagship franchise Bejeweled, the extremely successful match three puzzle title. Based on updated information from PopCap's distribution partners across Web, mobile, retail, in-flight and other channels, Bejeweled and Bejeweled 2 have collectively sold more than 25 million units across all platforms since the game first appeared in late 2000.

“Considering we tried to sell Bejeweled outright to more than one industry giant back in the early days of our company, and got no takers even after reducing our asking price to $60,000, this little game has done all right for itself,” said Jason Kapalka, chief creative officer and co-founder of PopCap, and the original designer of Bejeweled and its sequel. “I vividly recall prospective buyers telling us ‘It’s not even a game,’ while showing us the door,” Kapalka laughed.

While the casual games “audience” is estimated at between 350 million and 450 million, this estimate is based on “regular” players, consumers who enjoy casual games on a monthly or more frequent basis; hundreds of millions of additional consumers have experienced a casual game, most often Bejeweled, at least once in their lives. More than 350 million copies of the Bejeweled/Bejeweled 2 have been downloaded from the Web, accounting for nearly a third of the 1 billion-plus downloads of all PopCap® titles. Tens of millions of copies of Bejeweled have been installed on mobile phones worldwide, and more than 25 million units of the game have been sold across all platforms, amounting to over $300 million in consumer spending over the history of the game. (Additionally, Bejeweled has garnered tens of millions of dollars in online advertising.)

For the past three years and counting, Bejeweled has consistently been among the top three “family entertainment” software titles sold at retail, while most hit video games achieve such ranking for one or two months. Likewise, the game has been one of the top three sellers among mobile games for more than three years running. Among PopCap’s own customer base, exposure to Bejeweled is exceptionally high: a survey of 13,000 PopCap customers conducted in April 2008 found that fully 95% of them had played Bejeweled in some form.

The Bejeweled franchise is also one of the most ubiquitous and accessible in the history of video games, with versions of the game available for Web, PCs and Macs, mobile phones, Xbox and PlayStation consoles, PDAs and Blackberrys, iPods and iPhone, in-flight on leading airlines, on-demand TV systems in hotels – even scratch-off lottery tickets in many states. All told, Bejeweled and Bejeweled 2 have collectively been enjoyed for an estimated 6 billion hours – the equivalent of 60 people playing the game 24 hours a day since the last Ice Age 11,400 years ago.
Head over to the link below for more information.

PopCap Games
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IMG Reviews Dream Chronicles 2
8:47 AM | Marcus Albers | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games has posted a review of the seek-and-find sequel, Dream Chronicles 2, from PlayFirst, Inc.. Here's an excerpt from the review:

You may have noticed that word "fairy" cropping up in this review a lot. To be honest, my patience was tested by the constant references to fairies in this game. The missing husband is himself a fairy (named Fidget, of all things.) Your mother-in-law is the Fairy of Plants, and there's an evil fairy queen, and many other fairies along the way (though you never actually see most of them.) There are also fairy books, fairy crystals, and even a fairy printing press. Where most games would probably have used the word "magic" once or twice, this game uses the word "fairy". As a middle-aged male I found it vaguely embarrassing to be seen playing the game.
Follow the link below to read the full review.

IMG Review: Dream Chronicles 2
Dream Chronicles 2
Buy Dream Chronicles 2

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Diablo III: Three New Jay Wilson Interviews
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Three new interviews with Diablo III lead designer Jay Wilson are now available. Eurogamer, IGN, and GameSpy all questioned the developer about the eagerly anticipated third installment of the popular action RPG franchise.

From Eurogamer:

Eurogamer: Why do you think so few RPGs have gone with the isometric perspective - and why did you choose to stick with it?
Jay Wilson: I think people mistake camera view with technology. A lot of times people say - we had a few people, not very many but a few people in the company who said this - why do you even bother with a 3D engine if you're going isometric? That doesn't make any sense to me. A lot of people really saw it as a tech choice, and we saw it as a gameplay choice.
Because our industry is a technology industry and is very focused on innovation, there's this push to always advance. For us, yeah, we want to advance too, but the camera has nothing to do with that. The camera is a gameplay style, and a vastly unexplored gameplay style, especially with RPGs. It's so under-explored, and it makes for such good gameplay, it's so approachable, it's so eloquent.
From IGN:
Since our time for the interview was limited, we shifted gears into what Diablo III's environments might be like over the course of the story. "I don't think we're going to have anything quite as out there as [Diablo II's] Arcane Sanctuary. I'd say the scale and scope of the game in terms of the threat you end up facing is much, much higher than the previous games. I think if you look at the cinematic trailer there's never really been an invasion of Sanctuary, and I think from the trailer it's obvious that's where we're headed. A lot of what happened in the original Diablo was very small in scope. Even in Diablo II you traveled all over the world, like you're really just facing the aftermath of Diablo walking through the world ... There was a bit of it with Lord of Destruction. Baal's invasion was sizable, but we really want to go more, higher than that. That's about as detailed as I can be without giving away key story elements."
From GameSpy:
GameSpy: There wasn't much content built specifically for PvP in the Diablo games. Fast forward to WoW, and you have lots of PvP-specific content. What approach to PvP are you taking with Diablo III?
Jay Wilson: We'd like there to be a dedicated PvP mode, and we'd like to move away from [how it worked in previous Diablo games] where players just enabled PvP. We don't have any specific plans yet because we haven't really made any active decisions. The only real PvP-oriented decision that we've made and announced is that we do not allow the "hostility mode" that Diablo II had where you can go into town, go hostile, pop back through a town portal, and insta-kill your friend. That just makes people not want to play the game. I know some people say, "Oh, you're taking the teeth out of Diablo." I understand why they feel that way, but making people not want to play together does not make for a better game. That's our feeling.
We definitely want there to be a PvP mode for PvP players, and we would like that mode to be a really serious, skill-based, very strong [aspect of the game]. I feel that on the side of all our games, we really try to make PvP games that cater to a competitive player, first and foremost. We don't try to dumb down or tone down our PvP games. We make [them] good, strong competitive games. StarCraft is one of the best examples. But in terms of what our actual plans are for Diablo III, we don't have anything to specifically announce right now, mostly because we're still messing around with a bunch of different ideas.
Check out the rest of the interviews as the links provided below.

Eurogamer: Diablo III Interview
GameSpy: Jay Wilson Talks Diablo III
IGN: Diablo III Preview
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo III
Buy Diablo III

Spore Creature Stage Preview Video Available
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

IGN has added a new preview video to its website, this one featuring Spore, Will Wright's upcoming galaxy spanning god-sim. The video gives players a preview of the second phase of the game, the Creature Stage, in which newly created beasties crawl onto the land and begin to interact with the environment around them.

There's a good chance that you're already acquainted with part of the Creature Stage, as the Spore Creature Creator released earlier this year is lifted from this stage. With the Creature Creator you could create your own creature, and the tool is powerful enough to provide an almost endless amount of diversity. Just witness the more than 2.7 million creatures that have been created to date, a number that is far larger than the number of known species on Earth.

In Creature Stage, you can still create and evolve a creature, but you'll need to do so by accumulating DNA points by eating things. You can spend those DNA points to add arms, legs, and other body parts to your creature. And you can also scavenge special abilities from fallen creatures. But there's more to life than just eating and trying not to be eaten; you can make friends, too. To find out more, just watch the video above. And then keep an eye open next week, when we take a look at Tribal Stage, the middle chapter of Spore
To view the video click on the link below.

IGN: Spore Creature Stage Video Preview
Electronic Arts
Buy Spore

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SC II: Single Player Campaign, Considering A StarCraft MMO
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

VideoGamer has published a new interview with Blizzard Entertainment's co-founder and VP of product development, Frank Pearce. The subject of discussion for the interview was StarCraft II, the continuation of the successful sci-fi real time strategy series. Pearce discussed a variety of topics including the RTS genre, the game's single player campaign, and the possibility of a StarCraft MMO. Regarding the campaign, what kind of ideas have you got that you're looking to implement?
FP: The biggest thing for us is immersing the player in the story, as far as single-player goes. We got a pretty rich universe that we want to leverage as far as that goes. The other thing would be the branching campaign, so that the players have some choices in terms of the route they take to experience the story. And also the technologies that they choose to leverage throughout the campaign. You might be able to choose between taking siege tanks into a mission or taking Vikings into a mission. Is there potential for the StarCraft universe to branch out into other areas, like MMOs or even a console game that might be a shooter?
FP: Yeah StarCraft Ghost was something that we were working on that got shelved. Yeah the StarCraft universe is really rich, and it's got a lot of cool stuff in it that could be leveraged for any number of different genres. A big factor would be what the development teams want to work on. When the StarCraft 2 team is done with StarCraft 2, a factor is what they want to work on next, because the development teams plays a big role in deciding what they're going to do. So if there was a development team that was really passionate about leveraging the StarCraft universe for a different genre then that's something we would seriously consider. With WoW doing so well, it proves that it's a great idea.
FP: It would be a lot of work! [laughs]. But the thing you have to remember about the MMO genre, especially now that the bar is set by games like World of Warcraft, WoW has been in development since, in some shape or form, 1999. There's people on the WoW team that have been on that team for nine years. So there's nine years of technology and story and content that are created, so the bar for entry into the MMO genre, whether it's Blizzard or someone else, is very high as a result. So you're dealing with a market where games have nine years invested in them. And so to look at StarCraft and say well we could make an MMO out of that. Well yeah, but how many years would we have to invest in it to create the quantity of content and the quality of experience that would be required to meet just the minimum standard that's set by the games that are out there right now?
Visit the site below to read the rest of the Q&A.

VideoGamer: Starcraft II Interview
Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
Buy StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty

Mac Games News for Thursday, August 21, 2008

TransGaming Adds SecuROM To Ciderized Titles6:33 AM
'Gaming God' Sid Meier Interviewed6:00 AM
Apple Games Features The Princess Bride Game6:00 AM
New Diablo III Screenshots & Artwork Available6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, August 21, 2008 on one page

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