PopCap's John Vechey • Page 2

On Facebook, iPad, Minkley's Meat Ceiling and more.  

Eurogamer: I don't know if you heard, but Apple announced a new iPad recently. I can't find anything about it on the internet. What do you think about this device?

John Vechey: We're excited - the iPad's going to be awesome.

Dave Roberts [CEO of PopCap] always had a laptop next to his TV. I never really saw the point, but when we were talking he'd look something up. It was just a simple little laptop. And I'm like, "This is really convenient! Everyone should have a laptop next to their TV!" So I got a laptop and sat it next to my couch. And I believe the iPad will fulfil the need consumers don't even know they have yet. It's going to be phenomenally successful.

I don't know if this is a PopCap position or my word, but we're certainly going to support it - I want to play Plants vs Zombies on that. It feels good to touch, right? The iPad would be perfect for real-time strategy. You can't have this really immersive gaming experience but it may actually be more fun than a lot of different game experiences you can get with a PC or console.

Eurogamer: Are you treating the iPad as completely different to the iPhone?

John Vechey: You know, we're still trying to figure that out. It is a different thing but it's not that different. On iPhone we made the interface smaller and made touch controls. On iPad we've got the touch part down and now we need to make the UI better.

Apple's already iconic iTablet. I mean iSlab. I mean iPad.

Eurogamer: Are you converting any of your existing games to iPad?

John Vechey: I believe so.

Eurogamer: Which ones?

John Vechey: I don't know [laughs].

Eurogamer: Is the iPad the most important thing that will happen this year in gaming - even considering the launch of Project Natal and Sony's PS3 wand?

John Vechey: The iPad's important but I think it's going to be more important in three years. Facebook and social [gaming]: the important thing is happening right now.

What's going to happen is you are going to see Facebook connectivity in hardcore games. It feels good when you're playing on Xbox Live it feels broken if you don't connect. With Facebook you will know your friend's playing the game - you'll always know they're there. Things like that are going to come from the casual into the core stuff, and that's actually what's going to happen in the short-term that's going to really start changing gaming.

The iPad is going to take three years. Look how long it took the iPod to get the momentum where everyone has one. It's probably going to take the second generation [iPad] to make it really, like, "Wow!"

From a web standpoint, Facebook is definitely going to be the biggest thing in gaming this year. In a couple of years there's going to be Facebook or social integration in all of our games across all of our platforms.

Every game could be more fun with social connectivity, even if it's seeing what level your friend got to. Not if it's an embarrassing game; we played a lot of this weird strip Pachinko game called [Pachinko Sexy Reaction] - I don't think I'd want that to be social because I'd be embarrassed playing that.

Bejeweled Blitz has 9.7 million active users a month. 55 of my Facebook friends play it - notice how their scores are integrated into my game.

Eurogamer: Is the App Store the most important digital platform now? Are Nintendo and Sony wasting their time with DSiWare and PSP Minis?

John Vechey: Well, we just launched some games on DSiWare so I'm certainly not going to say that is a waste of time [laughs]. The App Store has been phenomenal for digital distribution. I can't say if it's the most important but it's certainly in the top five greatest things that have happened to PopCap.

Eurogamer: What do PSP Minis and DSiWare need to do to compete?

John Vechey: I hate to say this, but I've stopped travelling with a DS. I use my iPhone - I already have my iPhone with me, it's in my pocket. It's one less thing to charge. So I play games now on the iPhone.

Making the experience better overall, it's still a bit clunky. That's getting in the way. And it's going to come down to devices in hands. The PSP's going to have more of a challenge than the DS. Look at the PSP and look at where the iPhone's going... The DS has the Nintendo thing and that differentiates it: it's very obviously not an iPhone. Whereas the PSP; where you see the iPhone going is getting better graphics, better hardware - the PSP is going to have trouble differentiating itself.

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Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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