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PopCap: iPad "will change gaming"

But not for three years, reckons publisher.

PopCap believes the iPad will need around three years and a hardware update before it will really impact the market.

But when that time does come, PopCap co-founder John Vechey told Eurogamer that Apple's new invention "will change gaming", be "phenomenally successful" and "fulfil a need consumers don't even know they have yet".

"The iPad's important but I think it's going to be more important in 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!'" Vechey told us.

"This is my opinion and I think it's going to be phenomenally successful. I really do. It's very simple; it's not like it has a magical set of features, just a great package. I know what I'm getting when I have to get my mum a computer now: an iPad. Because she can't screw it up, she can't download a bunch of stuff... That's the perfect mum computer, right? And it's the perfect computer for ten year-olds to play with.

"I think it will change gaming," he added. "Here's this new device that gets to more people with a really great e-commerce model attached to it. It's really easy to buy on the iPhone - that's part of what makes it successful."

Vechey was cagey about the company's plans for the iPad. "I believe so," he answered, when asked if PopCap was porting iPhone games to iPad. "I don't know," he followed, when asked what.

"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," he said. "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."

Exactly how PopCap will differentiate between iPhone and iPad games is another grey area.

"You know, we're still trying to figure that out," said Vechey. "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.

"I don't think it's going to be it's own thing separately, nor do I think it's just going to be what's on the iPhone. It's going to be, 'Oh, here's some more features for the iPad' - a little bit more cool, a little bit more immersion, but with the same core similarities."

"We're excited," he added. "The iPad's going to be awesome."

PopCap - maker of Bejeweled, Plants vs. Zombies, Zuma, Peggle, Bookworm and more - has big plans for the year ahead. Take a peek at Eurogamer on Monday for our full - and bloody long, actually - interview with John Vechey to find out what.