PopCap: big publishers won't adapt to social games

CCO Jason Kapalka: "FarmVille is more of a WoW-killer than The Old Republic"

PopCap Games Chief Creative Officer Jason Kapalka has claimed that current publishers are not ready forwith the new age of mobile and social gaming.

Observing that "FarmVille is probably more of a WoW-killer than the Old Republic," the co-founder of the Bejewelled developer felt that many gamers no longer had the time on their hands necessary for traditional games.

"I think increasingly a lot of people are in that position, and games have to evolve to meet that need," he told in an interview published today.

"Whether it's a game like FarmVille or Bejewelled Blitz, or a lot of mobile games that have the same idea of 'I have it wherever I go, I can play short games on it.' The game adapting to your schedule, rather than you trying to conform to the game's demands.

"Those are the kinds of the kinds of games that are probably going to be the big scary ones as far as the current guys like Blizzard, Activision, and EA are concerned. They're going to be fighting them on unequal terms, like asymmetric warfare.

"So FarmVille versus WoW doesn't seem like a fair match, but they're not fighting on the same ground, they're fighting in very different ways. To date, a lot of the bigger companies haven't shown that they really understand that, or are capable of adapting to it."

He particularly felt that that subscription-based online games were doomed. "I think the vibe I'm getting certainly is that people are really deciding that MMOs are a bad place to do business.

"There's gonna be one or two last gasps probably [Star Wars] The Old Republic will be, well... I know it's a big, expensive project, and if that under-performs, that'll probably be the last time someone decides to spend $100 million on a WoW-killer."

The full interview, in which the CCO also discusses plans for (and problems with) gaming on Android, the standards war between Apple, Google and Microsoft and the risks of large companies acquiring small studios, may be found here.

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Latest comments (7)

Maarten Brands9 years ago
I'm not sure current publishers are struggling to adapt. EA is now the no. 2 publisher in the social game space and no.1 on iPhone so it seems that the 'old boys' catch up rather quickly.

Cheap, viral-only distribution opportunities are already gone or closing fast on all the new platforms. Brands and marketing dollars will rule the 2nd wave of social & mobile games. And Activision, EA et all certaintly have those.

If you are a multi-billion dollar company you can afford to wait to see if a viable business model develops in any new market before you jump in.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Maarten Brands on 2nd September 2010 9:47am

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Kyle Rowley Associate Design Director, CD Projekt RED9 years ago
Social gaming and traditional gaming are two completely separate markets, with some cross over between consumers. The two can (and do) function independently of each other.

The big publishers aren't going to lag behind, they'll just buy developers that have already penetrated that market (ala EA and Playfish). Zynga and Farmville are not the norm in this space; I don't think we'll see a game penetrate the social games market like Farmville has for some time

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Kyle Rowley on 2nd September 2010 9:48am

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Mike Clegg Marketing/Design 9 years ago
Agree with above comments to a greater extent. Cash rich organisations are buying their way into the casual games market place. There is still a bit of room for smaller companies to make an impact though -they just have to be very smart about their marketing. And I just don't mean spending mega-bucks.
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Show all comments (7)
Steve Ince Writer-Designer 9 years ago
Contradictions here:

"FarmVille is probably more of a WoW-killer than the Old Republic,"

"but they're not fighting on the same ground"
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Victor Perez CEO, Games GI9 years ago
Agree with you, Casual need to show that the big money is there, and right now it is not. And Big Publishers can buy after see if that really works (when I say works, means "money"). Better see the interview of the Bigpoint CEO, the growth is limited by the concept of casual... at least you touch really big audiences.
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Greg Zeschuk General Manager, BioWare Austin, EA BioWare9 years ago
Not sure I agree with the conclusions...:)

Frankly there's plenty of pie for everyone to share!
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Matej Gause CEO, Mobilgamer9 years ago
You would be surprised how big players in games industry managed to adapt at least to mobile gaming. I am pretty sure that these big players don't need to be so scary they are skilled enough to bring some really cool games and fresh wind to social and mobile gaming. I haven't experienced social gaming much though I can say that about mobile games industry.

EA #1 publisher of mobile games including iPhone and not because its high quality mobile games but because of its large sales channels. We can now see the coming of really famous faces as Epic Games ( Epic Citadel - Unreal Engine 3 game on iPhone ) and John Carmack ( Rage iPhone ) to mobile gaming. They have at least great ideas and even money to buy many other studios around the world that have experienced social or mobile gaming.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Matej Gause on 2nd September 2010 10:39pm

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