Zany lawn-of-the-dead tower defense game Plants vs. Zombies is reportedly the fastest-selling game that casual games monolith PopCap has ever made.
I’m not going to make any pretenses here: I flippin’ love Plants vs. Zombies. So do my coworkers. Apparently so do lots and lots of other people – PopCap PR guru Garth Chouteau told Gamasutra that the game has been selling like hotcakes. In fact, “(a)t this very early point in its history, it’s the best-selling game PopCap’s ever had.”
Yes, better than even Peggle or Bejeweled. Apparently, people just don’t like those damn dirty zombies on their lawn. Chouteau believes that PvZ‘s strength is partly due to how it appeals to the traditionally “hardcore” crowd. Hardcore gamers do love (to hate) the undead, after all. “There’s certainly a larger contingent of ‘hardcore’ gamers purchasing [Plants vs. Zombies] than most of our other titles, with the notable exception of Peggle,” said Chouteau. “At the moment, we’d estimate that at least half of all buyers of PvZ would fall into the ‘hardcore’ category.”
It isn’t even just that both the concept and subject matter – tower defense and zombies, respectively – both fall into the realm of “things hardcore gamers think are awesome.” Chouteau believes that the game’s (heavily discounted) presence on Steam, a traditionally “hardcore” distribution platform, also accounts for the positive reception from the not-so-casual side of the tracks. In other words, it’s not just what’s in the game, but how you deliver it.
The trick lies in finding a good balance, according to Chouteau. PvZ is “deceptively deep,” using familiar mechanics like ability cooldowns and resource management – but at the same time, the game “is engaging enough that people end up spending a ton of time in the game before they really realize that an afternoon has just evaporated.”
Boy, ain’t that the truth. BRB, watering my Zen Garden.