The idea originally took form as an unofficial version of the game called Besharded, created by Michael Fromwiller as a way to kill time during farming and long raiding sessions. The Bejeweled clone eventually drew the attention of PopCap, which responded in a very cool fashion by not only embracing the idea, but by hiring Fromwiller to create a more polished, official version of the game.
The Bejeweled add-on for World of Warcraft will offer classic, timed and “flight” game modes, according to Gamasutra, as well as a customizable interface, a persistent high score table and a “Bejeweling tradeskill” ranking for player achievements. The new mini-game will be available beginning September 25, and best of all, it will be absolutely free.
And that, kids, is how you do it. Bejeweled is an old game and the effort required to buff it up for World of Warcraft was probably minimal, but by doing the exact opposite of what the industry normally does in these cases, which is to say cease-and-desist letters backed by the threat of heavy-handed legal action, PopCap has managed to turn a forgettable little side-story into a potentially huge public relations coup and mountains of gamer good will. Is it any wonder they’re at the top of the heap? Casual they may be, but a lot of mainstream videogame publishers would do well to take note.