PopCap Games

PopCap Games
Industry Video game industry
Founded 2000 (2000)[1]
Headquarters Seattle, Washington, United States
Key people
John Vechey
Brian Fiete
Jason Kapalka
Products List of PopCap games
Revenue US$ 100+ million (2010)[2]
Number of employees
About 400[2]
Parent Electronic Arts
Website www.popcap.com

PopCap Games is an American video game developer and publisher, based in Seattle, Washington, United States, and is a subsidiary of Electronic Arts. It was founded in 2000 by John Vechey, Brian Fiete and Jason Kapalka, and since October 2013 employs about 400 people.[2] Most of PopCap's games are available for a fee and are purchased through Origin or Steam.

PopCap's flagship title Bejeweled has sold more than 50 million units[3] across all major platforms. PopCap games are available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Zeebo, cell phones, PDAs, iPod Classic, iOS, Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS, Windows Phone, mobile devices and in web browsers.


PopCap Games was founded by John Vechey, Brian Fiete and Jason Kapalka in 2000. They wanted to create games, primarily by learning from other Internet gaming sites. Their first game was Bejeweled, a huge-hit gem-swapping game, which was supported on all major platforms and awarded by Computer Gaming World Hall Of Fame in 2002. The company expanded in 2005 with the acquisition of Sprout Games, a Seattle-based casual games developer company like PopCap Games, founded by James Gwertzman. Sprout Games is the creator of the game Feeding Frenzy. The Sprout team helped PopCap to make a sequel to the hit game, Feeding Frenzy 2: Shipwreck Showdown, with Gwertzman becoming the Director of Business Development at PopCap. In early 2006, PopCap International was opened, based in Dublin, Ireland, working on product localization, mobile games development, marketing, sales and business development.

On August 22, 2006, it was announced that PopCap Games had entered into an agreement with Valve Corporation to deliver PopCap's games via Steam, Valve's content delivery system. Beginning on August 30, 2006, 17 of PopCap's products became available via Steam. In keeping with PopCap tradition, each PopCap game offered via Steam is available for a free trial period as well as for purchase.[4]

PopCap began another round of expansion in July 2007 by buying other casual game developers including the creators of an online consumer portal, SpinTop Games. One week prior, the company acquired the Chicago-based development house Retro64, founded by Mike Boeh, which is best known for their retro-arcade action and puzzle titles. After these acquisitions, the PopCap logo was rebranded, dropping the "Games" portion. PopCap's premium games list on their website are now mixed with other games from other developers/distributors.

On April 5, 2011, PopCap announced the creation of a new subsidiary, 4th and Battery, started in order to create "edgier" games.[5] Their first creation was the game Unpleasant Horse. On July 12, 2011, Electronic Arts announced it was acquiring PopCap for $650 million with an additional $100 million stock option.[6] Since the acquisition by EA, the state of 4th and Battery is unknown; its website redirects back to the main PopCap site.

On August 21, 2012, PopCap fired 50 employees in North America in a move to address a shift to mobile and free-to-play games and evaluated ceasing operations of its Dublin studio.[7] The Dublin studio was closed on September 24, 2012.[8]


Main article: List of PopCap games

Most games run both with or without hardware acceleration, are usually controllable with the mouse, and often feature multiple game modes based on variations of the core game play.

One example of a notable game on PopCap is Typer Shark. Released in 2003, Typer Shark is designed as an educational typing game, which is primarily used for teaching young children how to type, but also a game that benefits teenagers and adults by improving their typing skills and increasing their words per minute. The game typically offers a 90-day trial, after which a full download can be purchased.

The premise of the game consists of the individual typing as a scuba diver, and as the player dives deeper into the ocean, there are words and letters written on sharks swimming towards the player, ultimately trying to eat them. The keyboard acts as your weapon, so to zap and kill the sharks, the player must correctly type the words and letters they see on the sharks body. The faster you type, the quicker the shark will be zapped to death. The player is rewarded with jewels and both accuracy and speed medals. During the introduction, the player can choose Easy, Normal, Hard, Expert or X-Treme levels and it shows them a treasure map of the different challenges they will encounter. As the scuba diver, the player has 3 lives, and after every round, statistics are kept track of and displayed for the player to monitor their progress and improvement. Typer Shark may be seen as drill and practice because of the repetitive typing tasks, but there are various levels and different challenges, so it also works for conceptually understanding how a keyboard works and making people more aware of how to use the keys and where they are located. Typer Shark records high scores, tracks typing stats and displays your accuracy and speed level to view your progress.

Some “top tags” in the reviews on different game websites described Typer Shark with the key words: "challenging, addicting, fun, and strategic." Other reviews from the Steam website stated that Typer Shark is a stimulating and interesting game to introduce and improve typing skills. Many reviews are often adults that reminisce on the game because they remember playing it in school, but still continue to play to improve their typing skills as adults.


According to the official company website, PopCap Games has won at least 25 industry awards, including Computer Gaming World Hall of Fame status for Bejeweled.


Games generally use tracker music as soundtracks, often written by Future Crew members Jonne Valtonen and Peter Hajba. Some exceptions are Talismania, which featured an ethnically Greek soundtrack with a modern twist, Peggle, which featured an easy listening soundtrack (as well as a choral passage of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony), both by SomaTone Productions, Noah's Ark, which featured an Ogg Vorbis stream, and Plants vs. Zombies, which featured an original soundtrack composed by Laura Shigihara.

PopCap Games Framework

PopCap Games Framework (official name was SexyApp Framework) is the name of a video game development kit for C++, released by PopCap Games. It is designed to let programmers easily and quickly create "PopCap-style" games, and is part of their developer program that encourages game creators to distribute their finished games through PopCap Games. The PopCap Games Framework is licensed under a proprietary free license. The PopCap framework powers casual games such as PopCap's own Bejeweled and Sandlot Games' Cake Mania. The framework only officially runs on the Microsoft Windows platform, although some games have been ported to the Mac using proprietary conversions of the framework. A community-supported effort is under way for porting the framework to Linux as well. One such effort is TuxCap,[9] which additionally makes use of PyCap,[10] wrapping the SexyApp API in a Python layer. A community forum for the PopCap framework[11] has helped developers and improved on the last official release of the framework. As of July 27, 2009, PopCap have finished their developer program. Community efforts to modernise the framework have culminated in SexyKanji,[12] which wraps the SexyApp API around the Gogii Games Engine (formerly the Kanji Engine), introducing support for new features and many different platforms, including Android, and iOS (iPhone/iPad). The Gogii Games Engine is a commercial engine, so developers must pay to acquire a license to use it (unlike the original PopCap framework).


  1. "PopCap Games - About". www.popcap.com.
  2. 1 2 3 Brian Crecente (January 1, 2011). "Ten Years of PopCap Games". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved December 29, 2010.
  3. Leigh Alexander (2010-02-10). "Bejeweled Sales Hit 50 Million". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  4. "PopCap Games Now Available Via Steam". 2006-08-30.
  5. Alexander Sliwinski (2007-04-05). "PopCap launches edgy '4th & Battery' label". Joystiq. Retrieved 2013-04-27.
  6. "EA to Acquire PopCap Games" (Press release). Electronic Arts. 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
  7. "Electronic Arts' PopCap Games Cuts Jobs, May Close Office". Businessweek. August 21, 2012. Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
  8. "EA closes PopCap Dublin". Develop. September 24, 2012. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  9. "TuxCap Games Framework | Free Development software downloads at". Sourceforge.net. Retrieved 2013-07-07.
  10. "Quirky little games for your edification". www.Farbs.org. Retrieved 2013-07-07.
  11. "(The Unofficial) PopCap Framework Developer Board". Forum.fischeronline.de. Retrieved 2013-07-07.
  12. http://www.sexykanji.net/
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