EA insiders on Popcap acquisition
This week brought the news that EA had acquired casual gaming company Popcap for $750 million.
At a recent retail event in Hampshire, three EA employees shared their personal opinions on the Popcap acquisition and the future of casual games.
One thing was immediately clear: EA Partners producer Ben Smith and Mass Effect marketing director David Silverman are huge fans of the company.
I think that packaged goods still are going to have a life somewhere. It just isn't going to be the core of the business.
Ben Smith, EA
"I love Popcap games, so I'm looking forward to whatever they're doing that is like PVZ or Bejewelled," said Smith, and Silverman agreed.
"I think they do an amazing job creating great properties and great games that millions of people can just sit down and play. My mom, she's beaten that game more than anybody I know, every time I see her she's playing Plants Vs Zombies, and the fact that it's an EA property now is awesome."
Sean Smillie, producer for SSX, wasn't personally a Popcap player, but recognised the potential.
"I'm not a casual gamer, but I think the opportunities with casual games, with all the Facebook stuff and iPhone, iPad I don't they've they've even touched where they're going to be able to go with it."
All three were professionally focussed on big AAA titles, and opinions were mixed over whether the increased interest in casual games posed a threat to more expensive and time consuming titles.
"I think there is some competition but at the same time casual is so accessible that I think people are just playing probably more overall," suggested Smillie.
"They're going home after work, after school, playing console games, big franchises, and on the way to work I think they're playing casual games. So I think there's probably a little bit of competition there, but people are just making more time to play more games."
"I don't know that they're the exclusive future. I think that packaged goods still are going to have a life somewhere. It just isn't going to be the core maybe of the business," agreed Smith.
We're not targeting the kind of person whose going to play a casual game like Plants Vs Zombies or Cut The Rope.
David Silverman, EA
Silverman disagreed that there was much of a crossover in audience at all.
"It's kinds of hard to have competition when your audience is completely different. So we work on Mass Effect 3 right now, which is definitely not targeting the kind of person whose going to play a casual game like Plants Vs Zombies or Cut The Rope."
Recently EA has had success using a casual game, hosted on Facebook, to market Bioware's RPG Dragon Age 2 on consoles and PC. Would this be a tactic that other EA AAA titles might adopt?
"We definitely have plans to bring Mass Effect, the universe, to other games. How that ends up, whether it's on iPad or Facebook or some new snacklefrackle thing, it's totally up in the air, but we're not meaning it to be just an HD platform thing," said Silverman.
"One of the biggest strengths of EA is probably what no other game company has, is that it can literally take its property and put it across everything. No other studio has that pipeline to make HD products, to make casual games on Facebook, to make games on mobile. We can take our properties and throw them on every platform known to man. Nobody else can do that. "