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"Arrogance is the enemy of a franchise": PopCap explains why it stepped back from Zuma

Zuma, Plants Vs Zombies and Peggle developer PopCap Games has explained why arrogance can kill any attempts to establish a long-running hit franchise. The studio knows a thing or two, as it has several hit franchises under its belt.

Addressing attendees at the World Mobile Game Conference in Shanghai, PopCap founder John Vechey explained that the company took the tough choice to walk away from Zuma to pool efforts on Plants Vs Zombies and Bejeweled as the company found it didn't transition so well to tablets and mobile. Rather than compromise quality, it made a decision to focus efforts elsewhere.

"Those franchises are going to be some of the biggest franchises in the games industry," he said. "But even then it's not without risk. When you try to create evergreen franchises you can actually screw it up.

"This is one of the most important things that we have to remember: hubris. Arrogance is the enemy of a long-lasting company. Arrogance is the enemy of a franchise. Just because we have Bejeweled or Plants Vs Zombies doesn't mean we can do a crappy job. We need to constantly ask ourselves, is this a good product? Is this a good investment?"

Vechey stressed that Zuma simply doesn't perform well on touch devices and that there was no desire to force it into a wrong-shaped box. "Zuma, in the first ten years of the history of the company, was one of the big franchises at Popcap. This was before Bejewelled and before PvZ.

"The thing is, the market changed and Zuma just doesn't feel great on a touch device. There's no way to make that feel perfect. So we as a company had to make a decision to say 'we're going to walk away from that even though it's done great for us'."

He concluded, "Be honest about where a franchise is in its lifecycle. Be honest about if it's truly evergreen," and stated that if studios are only focusing on the short term then they will encounter stumbling blocks down the line.

What do you make of PopCap's decision? Do you enjoy Zuma on mobile formats? Let us know below.


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Dave Cook avatar

Dave Cook


Dave worked on VG247 for an extended period manging much of the site's news output. As well as his experience in games media, he writes for comics, and now specializes in books about gaming history.