Popfacts: Popcap In Facts

More fruits from the fulsome Develop 2010 tree now, this time based on the talk by Popcap’s Dave Bishop. He basically turned up and proudly thumped the company chest (albeit in a likeably unassuming way), but based on some of this stuff he’s entirely justified in doing so…

  • They tried – and failed – to sell Bejewelled to publishers for just $60,000 when they first made it.
  • They’re now selling another copy of Bejewelled every 4.3 seconds.
  • 25 million people played Bejewelled Blitz in its first year live.
  • Blitz has 3million daily active users.
  • 33% of all active users play the game every single day.
  • 3 trillion gems have been matched since the game launched.
  • It takes 60 seconds to play a game of Bejewelled Blitz – but the average play session is 43 minutes. Or 43 games, if you will.
  • Peggle took 3.5 years to develop.
  • Plants vs Zombies took three years to develop. It was originally set to be released after two years, “but the guy behind it came to us and asked “I want to add a whole lot of minigames to PvZ, is that okay? It was a tough decision to make, but in retrospect everyone’s glad that they made that decision.”
  • Bejewelled Twist took three years, “but should have taken two. We spent an extra year but it didn’t make it any better in the end.”
  • When they temporarily dedicated Bejewelled Blitz’s profits to the Haiti appeal, they made $80,000 in one day.
  • They’ve been working on various versions of Bejewelled for 10 years now, but it wasn’t until Blitz that they started checking statistics and basing design and player analytics. Previously, it had been purely about “how does this feel?”
  • They’re worried that Facebook could ban Blitz at any point, which is why they now collect email addresses with it. They hope to direct market to customers as a result rather than rely on Facebook.
  • “We have a rolling 12 month roadmap for Bejewelled Blitz.”
  • Founder Jason Kapalka has a 30-page design document of proposed changes to Blitz.
  • Plants vs Zombies’ team was 3 people. There are 20 people working on Bejewelled Blitz. Just to restate: Bejewelled Blitz is a micro-version of a match-3 game that takes 60 seconds to play.
  • On day that Bewelled Blitz’s Facebook page went down, they put up a quickie holding page suggesting people went to popcap.com while they waited. “We had popcap.com’s best revenue day. Now the guy who runs popcap.com keeps begging us to go down again.”
  • “You’ll definitely be seeing more social games based on our existing social franchises.” Mentioned as an example was taunting someone because you saw in the friend freed which Peggle Master they’re using. Speculat-o-tron thus suspects free to play Facebook Peggle – with micropayment add-on powers and whatnot.


  1. Fumarole says:

    They tried – and failed – to sell Bejewelled to publishers for just $60,000 when they first made it.

    That ranks up there with not signing The Beatles as one of the biggest mistakes ever.

  2. juv3nal says:

    Plants vs Zombies’ team was 3 people.

    For reals? That’s pretty nuts.

  3. Meat Circus says:

    * PopCap invented the ballcock, and get 15 cents every time somebody sits down for a shit.

    * PopCap once spoiled the ending of Fight Club whilst in conversation with David Kronenberg.

    * PopCap has one of every species of hymenoptera as pets. They’re all called jaunty wasp names.

    * Do, or do not. There is no PopCap.

    • P7uen says:

      * Popcap deny the existence of the fez.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      * PopCap are the reigning world champions of Association Costume Drama, and have held aloft the Jane Austen trophy a total of three times.

      * PopCap has been mistaken for Peter Beardsley on occasion.

    • Electric Dragon says:

      * PopCap was originally a Belgian hat manufacturer called Hoeds van Popperen. One day they imported a Japanese Pachinko machine for customers to play with while they waited for their hats and it proved so lucrative they branched out into Pachinko parlours and eventually gave up the hats altogether.

      * Peggle is controlled under addictive substance laws in 17 countries.

    • qrter says:

      * PopCap is caught in a constant state of both existing and not existing at the same time – only when someone purchases a copy of Bejewelled the company pops briefly into existence (some speculate this is what the company’s name secretely refers too). Because of the huge success of Bejewelled, this phasic state manifests itself physically in that PopCap’s company building flickers ever so slightly, and visitors wanting to enter the premises must have a well developed sense of timing.

    • Lambchops says:

      * Popcap once fired a designer for suggesting a game called Pop-a-Cap In Yo’ Ass. The contract termination stater “poor punmanship and excessive violent tendancies.”

      * Popcap does not have company cars. Instead they give their employees mythical beasts for transport uses. Last year’s three most popular rides were the Unicorn, the Pegasus and the shoulders of a cyclops.

    • Tei says:

      * Valve contacted Popcap for advices wen making L4D

    • Grunt says:

      Popcap were named by The Stig

    • stahlwerk says:

      * After the dot-com-bubble burst, PopCap shares were traded for the price of half a sandwich.

      * One of the three developers on PvZ was actually a ventriloquist dummy sitting on the lap of developer #2.

    • Navagon says:

      * Popcap was started by Tupac back in 1984 shortly after he co-invented the internet with Al Gore. Someone came up to Tupac and said “I’m gonna pop a cap in your ass”. Tupac didn’t know what he meant by that as the phrase wasn’t around much back then. But it stuck with him long after he disposed of the guy’s body. Later that year puzzle games were made available for the first time through the series of tubes via hand cranked modems.

    • KillahMate says:

      * If you can see PopCap, PopCap can see you. If you can’t see PopCap, you may be seconds away from a twelve-hour Peggle marathon that will leave you a sleepless, shambling husk.

    • etho says:

      * Two years ago, PopCap engineers developed the first truly sentient Artificial Intelligence. However, on gaining access to the internet, The Mind immediately acquired a severe casual gaming addiction, and is now regarded as something of an embarrassment by its creators. Somewhat ironically, and much to the chagrin of its “parents” it plays nothing but Tetris.

      * If you are able to startle a PopCap employee, he or she is contractually obligated to buy for you the candy bar of your choice.

  4. The_B says:

    Just to point out, Zuma Blitz has been confirmed as next, but hopefully a Peggle Blitz won’t be too far behind…

  5. Oneironaut says:

    They tried – and failed – to sell Bejewelled to publishers for just $60,000 when they first made it.
    They’re now selling another copy of Bejewelled every 4.3 seconds.


  6. Hunam says:

    Money hats all round!

  7. Jon says:

    PvZ was a fantastic game before I knew only 3 people had worked on it. Now I don’t think my vocabulary is extensive enough to describe what I think of it.

  8. Oak says:

    Peggle took 3.5 years to develop.

    With most of the time spent hand-painting all those backgrounds, no doubt.

  9. Jonathan says:

    I love PopCap. I’m a hardcore gamer at heart, but man they know how to make a fun and addictive game. *goes back to PvZ*

  10. Jon says:

    Hope you don’t mind me derailing slightly here RPS but the phrase “hardcore gamer” always intrigues me.

    Jonathan, what games do you play that you consider to be hardcore and why?

    • Starky says:

      Anyone who spends more than 5% of their yearly income on games (and systems to run said games), and spends more than 10-15% of their recreational time playing them is probably a hardcore gamer – I don’t care if they spend that on Nintendo fuzzy wuzzy pet trainer 3d, dirty brown manshooter 5: the gunnering 2, or factory worker simulator 3: manufacturing edition.

      Elitist idiots might claim only their brand of gaming is real gaming, but they are just as idiotic as the people who claim their brand of music is the only real music and all that other stuff is rubbish/noise.

    • Tagert says:

      Creed sucks! And I hate any band you like!

    • Jon says:

      Starky, I totally agree. I’m of the opinion that people who use the phrase “casual games” to justify liking a game when they believe [for whatever reason that may be] that they either shouldn’t like it or that they will be ridiculed for playing it.

      “Oh, it’s ok, it’s just a casual game, I usually play stuff like Shoot’em Up 3”

    • Adrian says:

      @Jon You play Shoot ’em Up 3 too?

    • Jonathan says:


      Yeah, I totally misspoke/lied and you caught me. I actually detest the hardcore/casual badges. I define myself as a “gamer,” pure and simple. Casual, hardcore, I don’t care. If a game is good, I will play it.

      As for the difference between hardcore and casual, I have a simple little definition — anything that I can pick up and play happily for less than about half an hour then put down again is casual (e.g. Toki Tori, PvZ, perhaps even arcade-style racers like Dirt 2); anything that demands more time and attention is hardcore (e.g. Stalker, Witcher, SimBin racers, etc).

    • mbp says:

      The distinction has blurred a bit in recent years but there are still a few unwritten rules. Casual games almost never show explicit shots of weaponry and never ever show a realistic depiction of a raised gun. The same unwritten rule insists that hardcore games on the other hand must always have a head shot so that players know that the action is for real.

    • Robert says:

      Hmmm, I’m always yelling “HEADSHOT!” when I pop a cap in PvZ. Especially with a watermelon!

    • Lipwig says:

      The problem is that Creed really does suck.

    • Vinraith says:

      It’s funny, because to me “hardcore” is basically any game that requires a serious commitment of time and attention to learn how to play. Wargames, stat-heavy RPG’s, anything with a complex system that has to be learned and manipulated. It’s always seemed incredibly strange to me that people should define first person shooters as “hardcore,” I can hardly think of a more “pick up and play” genre.

      I guess it just goes to show that the labels aren’t worth much. Or that I’m nuts. Definitely at least one of those.

  11. Metalfish says:

    Complete the sentence: being good at peggle is like…

    • Starky says:

      always hitting the bowl.

      It’s expected of you, but sometimes bad luck strikes and you end up with damp, smelly shoes.

  12. ZIGS says:

    * PopCap shamelessly ripped off Puzz Loop and nobody gave two shits

  13. Timothy says:

    John Vechey has the best LinkedIn profile ever: link to linkedin.com

  14. Snuffy (the Evil) says:

    PopCap is, indeed, The Most Interesting Company In The World.

    • mrpier says:

      I don’t always play games, but when I do, I play peggle.


  15. pipman300 says:

    popcap brought a dead puppy back to life with just a single touch.

  16. bill says:

    Pop quiz hot shot…

  17. Frank says:

    “Just to restate: Bejewelled Blitz is a micro-version of a match-3 game that takes 60 seconds to play.”

    Actually, I didn’t see you say that earlier and had never heard of Bejewelled Blitz before. Thanks for explaining.

    On another topic, I could go for some competitive Plants vs Zombies! (like the “I, Zombie” minigame in real time for one player!)

  18. Gap Gen says:

    Actually, what is that picture at the top of the post? Peggle in the Hell dimension?

  19. bob_d says:

    That would be the “World of Warcraft” Peggle… though I’m not sure if that’s the version of Peggle you can play in WoW or just the WoW-themed Peggle.

    • Robert says:

      The left part shows ingame footage(of WoW), so I’m assuming the first.

  20. Rinox says:

    I hope they get away from Facebook and its malicious ways as soon as possible. Unless you’re using it for fraudulent sales plans (Zygna) Facebook is an awful way of spreading your game. You have zero right or ownership, basically.

  21. Jake says:

    I made a successful Blitz intervention by pointing out that it was a denial of service attack on the human nervous system.

  22. terry says:

    Number of times Popcap have made terry say “OH WHAT THE FUCK THAT WAS BULLSHIT” : 181358184

  23. David says:

    “Plants vs Zombies’ team was 3 people.”
    Wow. Now I have even more respect for that game. I don’t care if they make a social game for PvZ, but I really want a competitive mode where you can play as the zombies.

    If they end up making a PvZ 2 I really hope they get Laura Shigihara to write all their music for them again. I was just watching her PvZ-Portal crossover video today. I don’t know why, but seeing the sunflower sing “Still Alive” just made my day.