PopCap Games Bejeweled Case Study Mr. Dunford Task Read the below slides. Make links between the below areas and the information in the slides. Do this by annotating the slides with the appropriate point. • • the issues raised by media ownership in contemporary media practice; • • the importance of cross media convergence and synergy in production, distribution and marketing; • • the technologies that have been introduced in recent years at the levels of production, distribution, marketing and exchange; • • the significance of proliferation in hardware and content for institutions and audiences; • • the importance of technological convergence for institutions and audiences; • • the issues raised in the targeting of national and local audiences (specifically, British) by international or global institutions; • • the ways in which the candidates’ own experiences of media consumption illustrate wider patterns and trends of audience behaviour. Overview of Bejeweled • Bejeweled 2 is the latest version of the classic "match-3" gem puzzler, in which players manipulate jewels of different colors to create horizontal or vertical rows of three more identical jewels. Solve handcrafted brain teasers in puzzle mode while up against the clock or kick back, relax and enjoy endless mode. With awe-inspiring planetary backdrops, explosive new gems and dazzling special effects, Bejeweled 2 is more wildly addictive than ever before! The Roots…How PopCap Games Started • Founded during Internet bust in 2000 • Founders—Brian Fiete, Jason Kapalka and John Vechey. • Desired to launch casual online games into the mainstream marketplace. • Ignoring the conventional wisdom that "success is on the consoles." Timeline of Events • 2004—Maverick Award for Development • 2004/11—Bejewelled Deluxe Released—Already on mobiles, PCs and PDA, the new Bejewelled Deluxe features ‘awe-inspiring planetary backdrops, explosive new gems and dazzling special effects, Bejeweled 2 is more wildly addictive than ever before. The game features four unique and entrancing ways to play. Besides the newly improved Classic mode, players can solve hand-crafted brain teasers in Puzzle mode, race against the clock in Action, or kick back and relax with the new Endless mode. • 2004/11—Official Bejewelled website is released Timeline of Events • 2005/09—$ 1 Million Skill’s Jam Competition—Already on the web, PCs, mobiles and other digital entertainment platforms, Bejeweled is one game that is featured in this competition. – Bejeweled is selected because it ‘is extremely broad in popularity and is easy to learn while still being challenging to experienced players’ and is ‘one of the top casual games in the world’. – Using SkillJam's proprietary tournament technology, contestants can enter the championship through one of approximately 400 qualifier tournaments provided on www.Skilljam.com, or via SkillJam partner sites such as AOL Games, eBay, GSN, MSN Games, and Real Networks – SkillJam, a subsidiary of FUN Technologies, is the leading multi-channel provider of skill-gaming technology and solutions and boasts more than 100+ skill games across all gaming genres, including Puzzle, Arcade, Card and Tile, Word, Trivia and Multi-Player games. SkillJam develops and distributes skill-gaming solution across Online, Mobile, and iTV platforms, while providing a host of private-label gaming solutions for a broad network of partner destination sites in the US and abroad, including AOL, MSN Games, and Disney's Go.com. – In 2005 alone, SkillJam has signed over 30 skill-gaming deals with leading global brands, including Virgin Games and eBay. Timeline of Events • 2005/9—Consumption of Bejeweled and Hall of Fame – Bejeweled 2 and Zuma, which have collectively been played by more than 20 million consumers for more than 500 million hours, are two of the most popular casual games of all time, and have dominated the Top 10 lists of Web, downloadable/PC and mobile games since being introduced in early 2004. – The Bejeweled franchise alone is responsible for consuming approximately 2 billion hours of consumer leisure time -- more than the U.S. airings of all of the original episodes from the first four seasons of the "Survivor" reality television show combined. – Bejeweled was recently inducted into Computer Gaming World's Hall of Fame -- the first puzzle game to be so honored since Tetris nearly 20 years ago. Timeline of Events • 2005/9—General Facts Regarding online Gaming – The casual games sector -- comprised of family-friendly puzzle, word, trivia and arcade-style games -- has experienced tremendous growth, with almost 150 million consumers worldwide now playing such games on a regular basis. – PopCap has helped grow the casual games space, pioneering the "try-before-you-buy" business model (now an industry standard) and consistently creating the most popular games in the category since the company's inception in 2000. – PopCap's games are simple to learn and easy to play, yet are difficult to master and provide limitless enjoyment. Timeline of Events • 2005/11—Bejewelled and Zuma featured in Xbox 360 Live Arcade – Launched of Microsoft’s New Videogame Console. – Allows PopCap’s Bejewelled, successful in the online PC gaming arena, an opportunity to diversify today's videogame console content. – Available for download via the Xbox Live Arcade area of Xbox Live, the online service available to all Xbox 360 purchasers. – Several other PopCap titles including Feeding Frenzy® and AstroPop® will be added to the Xbox Live Arcade service by early 2006. – All such PopCap titles are optimized for play on Xbox 360 and feature a number of enhancements and capabilities not found in previous versions of the games (see below). – Live Arcade for Xbox 360 is designed to be an integrated destination for downloadable games of all types – Microsoft says is was ‘a strategic launch partner’ with PopCap – Content is casual but challenging – PopCap says ‘Bejeweled 2 in particular has never looked or played better than it does in the high definition, widescreen resolution mode of Xbox 360.’ – Additional Enhancements, Functions and Features include: 1. High-Definition Graphics -- All titles will support the Xbox 360's HDTV display output and widescreen resolutions that show off each game's graphics to unparalleled effect 2. Leaderboards -- Online scoreboards to compare against other Xbox Live Players (interactivity) 3. Achievements -- Merit badges awarded for predefined accomplishments earned in the game that players can proudly display as they navigate the Xbox Live environment (hierarchy) 4. Gamerscore -- A meta-score spanning all Xbox 360 titles, whereby cumulative accomplishments across different game genres/categories are ranked and reflected in one composite "uber-score" to showcase a player's overall games experience on the system. (hierarchy) 5. Enhanced Play Controls -- Using the new wireless controllers that come standard with Xbox 360 System, players can now 'feel' the weight of the gems as they're swapped in Bejeweled 2 and sense the "kick" of the balls as they're fired in Zuma (tactile, technologies) Timeline of Events • 2005/10/10—PopCap Releases ‘Stress Relief From an Unlikely Source: 'Casual' Computer and Videogames’ Article – Makes link with seasonal stress – Identifies differences between casual games and ‘children's games, which are more likely to increase adrenaline levels due to their frenetic, competitive nature and "in-your-face" imagery.’ – These are ‘"casual" games: word, puzzle, trivia and simple action games such as Bejeweled or Chuzzle from PopCap Games, which are already played by tens of millions of consumers, www.popcap.com.’ – Expert Opinions are used, so are opinions of consumers – Positive Facts and research is used – Distinction is made between ‘traditional’ video games and ‘casual’ games – The article ends with a brief overview of PopCap games, expressing how they are the ‘leader in casual games’ and how PopCap now has added a ‘printable/email-able gift certificate to its website. The recipient can try out as many PopCap games as they like, then use the gift certificate to purchase the one(s) they enjoy most. – Following this is a list of where the games can be purchased (Microsoft Games Zone (http://zone.msn.com/), Yahoo Games (http://get.games.yahoo.com/), PopCap Games (www.popcap.com), AOL Games (http://games.aol.com/), Real Arcade (www.realarcade.com) – The next day a correction to the above article is printed. The error was the printing of the consumers health issues (from ‘multiple sclerosis’ to ‘onset Alzheimers and occasional bouts of severe depression’) Timeline of Events • 2005/10/30—Disney and PopCap Teamup – Disney Online, leader in kids and family online entertainment, today announced the launch of Disney's Game Cafe www.disneysgamecafe.com, the company's first downloadable games collection and Web site specifically tailored for a "grown-up" audience. – Site features popular games from Disney, FreshGames, PlayFirst and PopCap – Twenty exciting games with appeal for adults 25-45 who can easily download and play offline with friends and family. With plans to add more games in the future, the initial line-up includes Disney titles, as well as the popular titles from leading online developers and publishers. PopCap has the most games featured (Eleven Games). – Games are available for downloading for $9.95 to $19.95 or a free trial is available by visiting www.disneysgamecafe.com. – Disney "We are pleased to expand our downloadable games offering, broadening our appeal to include a diverse collection of games the whole family can enjoy," – Disney "By partnering with the best developers and publishers of downloadable games, we are able to expand our commitment to providing high quality online entertainment for both kids and their parents.― – Since Disney Online www.disney.com launched in 1995 it has become the number one kids and family entertainment destination on the Internet, with an estimated 77 percent of traffic from adults (comScore Media Metrix, October 2005). – Disney Online provides an interactive gateway to family entertainment that features many of the popular Disney characters. – Disney Online network is designed to reflect the vision of an "online theme park," providing an interactive gateway to all of the company's many Disney-branded internet initiatives. Timeline of Events • 2005/12/14—PopCap Sponsors Game Award at Slamdance 2006 Gamemaker Awards Night Gala – PopCap signed an agreement with the organanizers of the Slamdance 2006 independent film festival, to be a primary sponsor of the event's Gamemaker Awards Night. – At the same time, PopCap and the Slamdance Festival announced the addition of a new "Best Casual Game" award to the event's Guerilla Gamemaker Competition. – Senior members of PopCap's game design and development teams will serve as judges for the new award category and will present the award to the developer whose submitted work best demonstrates the virtues of a successful casual game: simple, addictive, and fun. – The grand prize winner will be considered for worldwide publication under the PopCap label. – 70+ Entries – Entrants use PopCap's free casual game framework, which accelerates the development for any game. Available for free. This dramatically speeds up the development time for new games. This is the same framework that PopCap itself uses to produce its own award- winning games. Why this was done, according to PopCap. "By allowing game developers to focus their efforts where it really counts, on making the game itself instead of having to start from scratch every time, we hope to unlock even more creativity and innovation in this exciting segment of the market," – PopCap’s reasoning for signing the agreement. ‘To support the next wave of independent game developers. We're really looking forward to identifying and rewarding the top independently-developed casual games of the past year.― – In addition to publishing their own internally-developed games, PopCap also publishes third- party games from independent casual game developers, such as the recently-launched Bonnie's Bookstore™ from New Crayon Games. – Five weeks spent evaluating the games based on three primary areas: simplicity, addictive core game-play, and overall fun. Timeline of Events • Continued--2005/12/14—PopCap Sponsors Game Award at Slamdance 2006 Gamemaker Awards Night Gala – Slamdance was started in 1995 by a group of upstart filmmakers – Slamdance Film Festival is a year-round organization dedicated to emerging artists and their vision. – Slamdance has established a unique reputation for premiering independent films by first-time directors working with limited budgets. – Has launched competitions before, working with fox21, the Guerilla Gamemaker Competition, and the Slamdance Media Group, a company comprised of distribution, development and talent-management units. – Now entering its second year, the Slamdance Guerilla Game Competition exists to recognize and reward the innovative and exciting work being done by independent game designers, programmers, and artists. – The Competition features Grand Jury and Audience prizes. – This year Slamdance has added the PopCap Casual Game award and two Student Awards to the competition. – The 2006 Slamdance Film Festival is presented by Kodak and fox21. – In addition to the above facts and items, the below ‘revised’ facts about the casual game sector was included in the press release. • The casual games sector -- comprising family-friendly puzzle, word, trivia and arcade-style games -- has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. More than 100 million consumers now play such games on a regular basis and according to industry research firms approximately 53 percent of those players are female and two thirds are over age 35. While the casual games sector has ballooned to projected revenues of more than $500 million in 2005, many of the most innovative games in the category are still created by small teams of developers working independently of large publishers. Timeline of Events • 2006/01/10—Mac and PopCap Games – Immediately availability are three of its top-selling word, puzzle, arcade and action games for Mac OS X version 10.4 "Tiger.― – The available games are Bejeweled 2, Bookworm and Zuma. – PopCap’s Reasons. "We rely on Apple innovation in various stages of the game design and development processes and are extremely impressed with what the power and tools allow us to create,― – "The Mac is a popular gaming platform and Mac owners are among the most ardent consumers and creators of entertainment content so we're excited to have our top games fully optimized for Tiger." – "Apple's use of powerful technologies like OpenGL and our breakthrough Xcode development tools make Tiger a great platform for developing eye-popping entertainment.― – Facts about Casual Gamers is included in the press release – Pricing and Availability is included…debut in the Game Pavilion Arcade at Macworld Expo this week and are also available at www.popcap.com, www.apple.com and other leading entertainment-oriented websites. The full, deluxe versions of these games can be downloaded from those same websites and played for free for 60 minutes using the "try-before-you-buy" sales model pioneered by PopCap. The games are priced at US $19.95 each. Timeline of Events • 2006/01/11—PopCap and Games for Health Project Team-up for Research Initiative – The Games for Health Project announced a unique effort to gather, evaluate, and share research on the use of digital games and cognitive health. – The jointly funded effort will result in a publicly available knowledge-base summarizing both the research and market development activities associated with the possible use of digital games for maintaining healthy minds. Initial findings will be made available in early Spring 2006. – Health Project’s Reasons. "We know good games activate minds. ‘What we don't know, and what hope to learn in the course of this research, is exactly what the role of digital games is or could be in the future, in helping people maintain healthy minds. The goal of this effort is to establish a baseline of knowledge -- you'd think it exists but it really doesn't. PopCap's support is going to help us accelerate our activity to get a handle on this as a benefit to the entire field of games and games for health." – With an increasingly aging population in many developed countries the field of cognitive exercise is growing. Advocates of cognitive exercise say it is equally important for people to exercise their minds as well as their bodies. In Japan, a series of popular brain exercise games for Nintendo's DS platform have been major commercial successes. In the U.S. several companies offer mental workout products. However, it's not clear what's good and what isn't or how or whether existing underlying scientific research has been effectively applied. – PopCap says "We have heard from many customers that they use our games for 'mental workouts' or 'brain exercise' but we're not even sure what that means or if it's even relevant,― – And ‘By partnering with the Games for Health Project we'll gain access to existing data and the emerging conduit for partnerships between healthcare researchers and game companies. Our plan is to share this work with everyone so we all have the same baseline from which we can inform ourselves and our customers -- and perhaps build even better, more beneficial, games.― – The goal of the work is only to summarize past and present efforts. It is not designed to test the validity of any specific game (PopCap's or otherwise) for which there is no actual body of existing research. The project may also look at existing public perceptions of cognitive exercise and expert opinions on whether digital games offer any specific comparative advantages over other sources of cognitive exercise. – The project will run several months during which contributors to the Games for Health Project working with research advisors will scour research, interview experts in the field, and examine current products. This work will be compiled into a knowledgebase and a summary report will be developed and presented at upcoming game conferences starting in the Spring of 2006, as well as made public on the Games for Health web site. – Games for Health is a project produced by The Serious Games Initiative (www.seriousgames.org), a Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars effort that applies games and game technologies to a range of public and private policy, leadership, and management issues. The Project is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. – The Initiative founded Games for Health to develop a community and best practices platform for games being built for health care applications. To date the project has brought together researchers, medical professionals, and game developers to share information about the impact games and game technologies can have on health care and policy. This includes an effort to catalog the current use of games in health care. For more information about Games for Health, see www.gamesforhealth.org. Timeline of Events • 2006/02/01—PopCap Launches International Operation – Based in Dublin, Ireland, the new operations center will serve as a local hub for PopCap's European and Asian business activities as well as studio facilities for international games and new title development. – PopCap's multimillion dollar investment in international expansion signals how serious the company is about supplying premium games in local languages and local venues. – PopCap's existing and future overseas partners and customers will receive more immediate and direct interaction with the company in every respect, while reducing their costs and shortening production and deal-making timetables. Newly-localized games for some European markets will be launched this quarter, and international versions of www.popcap.com are expected in the first half the year. – through initiatives such as the Digital Hub and has historically been the preferred European center of localization for the software industry – expansion is our top priority in 2006 – Among the first games to be made available to overseas audiences are Bejeweled® 2, Chuzzle™, Insaniquarium® and Zuma®; primary European languages targeted for rollouts in the first half of 2006 include French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and Swedish. – Asian localizations into Chinese, Korean and Japanese will also be available this year. – The casual games industry is the fastest-growing sector of the interactive entertainment industry, with enormous growth projected in 2006 and beyond. The broad appeal of casual games across new platforms such as mobile phones as well as traditional PCs and videogame consoles is drawing new audiences to gaming above and beyond the traditional "hardcore" game player. – Industry research firm estimates vary, but even conservative projections see the sector growing to more than $1 Billion in 2006, with some estimates as high as $5 Billion by 2009. PopCap is far and away the leader in the space, developing and publishing more hit games than any other casual games firm and attracting more than 150 million downloads of its games in the past five years Timeline of Events • 2006/02/01—PopCap Primary sponsor of Casualty Europe Conference – Held in Amsterdam February 7-9 – Done to celebrate the recent opening of its new international offices in Dublin, Ireland with a lead sponsorship role at the conference, a conference party and senior PopCap executives presenting at the event – Announcements and Activities include 1) Opening of international headquarters 2) European partnership meetings 3) PopCap Party (VIP) 4) Speakers Timeline of Events • 2006/03/02—PopCap releases press release titles ‘Female Gamers Not Just a Man's World: From 'Bejeweled' to 'Zuma,' Women Are Biggest, Most Passionate Players of 'Casual' Computer Games’ – Contains facts presented in a persuasive way, such as: ‘now played by more than 100 million people regularly -- over half of whom are female’. ‘Games like Bejeweled, Diner Dash, Bookworm and Chuzzle collectively consume more than 3 billion hours of women's leisure time per year’, ‘demographics reflect the increasing popularity of casual games among women. Of the 7 million monthly visitors to www.popcap.com, 72.8% are female, 71% are over the age of 35 and more than 43% are married with children. – Expert opinions given – Platforms available on are noted – Emphasis on difference between casual games and "hardcore" games are noted – Consumer’s opinions noted – Prices mentioned – Places to acquire mentioned Timeline of Events • 2006/03/06--PopCap™'s Bejeweled 2 and Zuma Featured on New Ultra-Mobile PCs – several of its most popular games, including Bejeweled® 2, Zuma®, and Bookworm®, have been optimized for the new Ultra-Mobile PCs announced today by Microsoft®, Intel®, and other industry partners. – Two of PopCap's Ultra-Mobile PC-optimized titles will also be showcased in the Microsoft and Intel booths (#A38 Hall 4 and #C46 Hall 2, respectively) at CeBIT, the world's largest IT and technology trade show being held this week in Hannover, Germany. – Trial versions of these games will be preinstalled on Ultra-Mobile PCs from several leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs); customers will be able to purchase the full version of these games directly from Microsoft via its MSN Games online portal. Future Ultra-Mobile PC-enhanced games will be available for download directly from PopCap – Microsoft’s reasons ‘anytime, anywhere nature’ of the platform and game – PopCaps reasoning: allows the ‘highest quality mobile gaming experience’ – Also, ‘Full-featured mobile devices like the UMPC are ideally suited to casual games, with their portability, digital entertainment focus, and wireless connectivity. Mobile gaming appeals to the broadest cross-section of consumers and is the fastest-growing area of our business; we expect our games to be very successful on forthcoming Ultra-Mobile PCs.― – And: The availability of PopCap's hit games on the Ultra-Mobile PC further establishes PopCap as the leading provider of casual games, anytime, anywhere. – Revised Consumer Facts: PopCap's flagship title, Bejeweled, has been installed on more than 50 million mobile phones in the US alone in the past two years, and now the Ultra-Mobile PC delivers a brand new platform that combines the versatility of the PC with the connectivity of a mobile phone in a very small, completely portable form. PopCap's casual games are also available for play on PCs and Macs, the Web, the Xbox video game system from Microsoft, seat-back in-flight entertainment devices on leading airlines, and more. – Revised Consumer Facts: Bejeweled 2 and Zuma, which have collectively been played by more than 75 million consumers for more than 1 billion hours, are two of the most popular casual games of all time, and have dominated the Top 10 lists of Web, downloadable/PC and mobile games since being introduced in early 2004. The Bejeweled franchise alone has captured approximately 2 billion hours of consumer leisure time, and Bejeweled was recently inducted into Computer Gaming World's Hall of Fame -- the first puzzle game to be so honored since Tetris nearly 20 years ago. Timeline of Events • 2006/03/14—PopCap Opens San Francisco Game Development Studio – In San Francisco, California – Done to complement the company's existing game development facilities in Dublin, Ireland and its Seattle, Washington headquarters. – The new San Francisco studio will serve as a regional hub for PopCap's growing game design and development activities, tapping the wealth of software engineering and artistic talent found in the area. – Dave Rohrl, former Senior Producer at pogo.com, Electronic Arts' casual games service, will serve as general manager of the new PopCap San Francisco studio. – The San Francisco studio will focus on all stages of game development from concept to launch, and is expected to grow from 5 initial staffers to approximately 15 in the coming months. – New Consumer Fact: Attracting more than 175 million downloads of its games in the past five years. Timeline of Events • 2006/03/21—Findings of Cognitive Health Research of Digital Gameplay – Cooperative Study Sheds Light on Value and Potential Applications of 'Casual' Computer- and Videogames for Cognitive Exercise – The full research findings are being presented today as part of the Serious Games Summit track at the Game Developer's Conference being held in San Jose, California – Findings/Health Porject ‘there is growing consensus that defined cognitive exercise can play a critical role in healthy aging. As part of that role, it seems clear that puzzle games, strategy games, and games which aren't as spatially oriented can play a significant role in that effort," – Summary Research – The research has shown that studies of people who maintain healthy cognitive loads (e.g. playing chess, doing crosswords) appear to have lower incidence of dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, and other cognitive ailments. Importantly two other risk factors included social activity and traditional physical exercise.
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