PopCap’s next game could be powered by Battlefield 3‘s Frostbite engine.
When Electronic Arts acquired PopCap Games, the publisher gained a incredibly prominent foothold in the casual gaming market. Popular PopCap titles like Bejeweled, Peggle, and Plants Vs Zombies greatly distinguished the developer from EA’s traditional hardcore market, and similar gaming experiences were expected to be produced under the new ownership. According to a recent EA job posting however, PopCap is actually branching out into the hardcore gaming scene. The developer is seeking a software engineer to assist in the development of a console-based triple-A title, lending credibility to the rumors that Plants Vs Zombies 2 will actually be a multiplayer shooter.
Outside of the usual requirements for a career in game development, PopCap is seeking an engineer experienced in modern consoles, specifically the PS3 and XBox 360. More importantly, the ideal candidate should be familiar with Frostbite 2, the engine used in hardcore shooters Battlefield 3 and Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Considering that the majority of PopCap’s catalog can be run without hardware acceleration, this could mark the biggest graphical leap forward in the developer’s decade-long history.
Unless PopCap is planning to turn Bejeweled into a cover-based shooter, Plants Vs Zombies 2 remains the best candidate for a triple-A experience. To be fair, the use of Frostbite doesn’t necessarily mean PvZ 2 will be a shooter, as the engine is also being used for racing games and RPGs. Either way, considering that the majority of PopCap’s catalog can be run without hardware acceleration, this is a fairly significant shift for the developer. It remains to be seen just how effectively PopCap can scale its signature gameplay to the triple-A industry.
Personally, I’ll remain skeptical unless it turns out that PvZ will be remade as an X-Com-styled tactical shooter. At that point, all bets are off.