PopCap Games新工作室4th & Battery瞄准新型游戏
PopCap Games多年来都不乏创造力，其推出了众多热门的休闲游戏，其中包括《宝石迷阵》和《植物大战僵尸》。公司去年创收1亿美元，且游戏的下载量高达15亿次。但游戏邦获悉，这家驻扎于西雅图的开发公司如今成立了新工作室4th & Battery，意图拓展新的游戏类型。
PopCap工作室的主管Ed Allard在博客中表示，4th & Battery是“PopCap突破自我的沙盒（游戏邦注：沙盒的作用就是为一些来源不可信、具备破坏力或无法判定程序意图的程序提供试验环境）。”这是个“寻宝、挖宝的圣地，能够诞生美丽的城堡，战胜其他的竞争对手。”PopCap向来只发行精心制作的游戏，游戏邦发现，其设计师George Fan花了3年多的时间在《植物大战僵尸》的完善工作上，这是一款即时策略游戏，游戏中有意识的植物得阻止僵尸入侵至其屋内。
工作室的名称是按PopCap总部西雅图市中心的十字路口命名的。游戏邦获悉，其首款游戏《Unpleasant Horse》是款免费游戏，本月底将入住iPhone平台。和其他的PopCap游戏不同，《Unpleasant Horse》并非面向所有家庭成员。游戏中，飞行的马匹将消灭小鸟，并降落在其他无辜马匹的背上，导致地球上出现‘绞肉大战’。Allard表示，这样的游戏“完全不是PopCap的风格。”
Allard表示，PopCap的游戏都是经过精雕细琢的，但这个过程花费时间太长，以致一些边际想法无法进行试验，但其实边际想法最好还是试它一试，以此来试探用户对其的接受程度。4th & Battery 是个安全的地带，开发商可以在此“大显身手”。游戏邦获悉，4th & Battery每年会推出几款游戏。
Allard表示，“4th & Battery就像个压力阀，用于缓解设计师的创造压力。”PopCap联合创始人及创意总监Jason Kapalka表示，“我们对此可以有无限的期待。”
PopCap Games forms a new label to experiment with games
PopCap Games has had no shortage of creativity over the years — its huge casual game hits include Bejeweled and Plants vs Zombies. The company generated more than $100 million in revenues last year, and its games have been downloaded 1.5 billion times. But the Seattle-based game developer had now created a new label called 4th & Battery to experiment with new kinds of games.
PopCap is preparing for an initial public offering in the second half of the year. The company has basically bottled the kind of hit-making capability that other companies would love to have. To foster more of that, the new label will give designers more free rein to “create smaller, simpler and sometimes edgier” games without the constraints of an established global games publisher. It’s not unlike the different labels that Disney had for movies, from Tri-Star to Miramax. And it shows that even creative companies have to keep doing what is necessary to foster creativity within their ranks.
Ed Allard, head of studios at PopCap, said in a blog post that 4th & Battery is “a sandbox for PopCap’s inner child.” It’s a “place to explore, dig for treasures, build cool castles and throw sand in other kids’ eyes.” PopCap has been pretty ruthless about only publishing fully baked games. PopCap designer George Fan spent more than three years perfecting Plants vs Zombies, a real-time strategy game where sentient plants have to stop zombies from getting into a house.
The label is named after the intersection in downtown Seattle where PopCap’s headquarters is. The first game, dubbed Unpleasant Horse, is coming on the iPhone later this month as a free title. Unpleasant Horse isn’t exactly for the whole family, like many of PopCap’s other games. The flying horse destroys small birds and lands on other innocent horses, which are then pushed into a meat grinder under the earth. Allard said such games may be “too strange to merit the PopCap seal of approval.”
Allard said that PopCap’s games are very polished, but the process takes too long to try out marginal ideas, where the best thing to do is to try them out and see if people gravitate to them or not. 4th & Battery will be a safe area where developers can “hone their chops.” The label will produce several titles a year.
Allard said “4th & Battery is a pressure valve intended to keep our heads from exploding.” Jason Kapalka, co-founder and chief creative officer at PopCap, said, “Expect weirdness.”
Overall, PopCap has more than 400 employees. Dave Roberts, chief executive of PopCap, said in a recent interview that the company has been investing heavily in multiplatform games that include both social and mobile titles. The tough decisions, he said, involve whether the company is investing enough money on platforms such as the iPad or Android, even as it stays focused on PC games.
He said the company was contemplating going public and he has noticed the “high mood” among investors who are hot to put money into mobile and social games. He noticed that valuations are rising and they’re “really based on what people are willing to pay for game companies.” There was even a rumor that Zynga would buy PopCap, but Roberts declined comment on that. Roberts says he knows Zynga is hiring people in Seattle and that he wants PopCap’s people to have a passion for making games.
“We had a mobile bubble in 2006, but the difference now is there is a lot of money being made,” he said. “You can argue if it is sustainable. Our approach is to always create something with lasting value.”（Source：GamesBeat）