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PopCap CCO: Facebook gaming's 'golden era' may be at an end


Are you tired of all the Farmville and Mafia Wars clones that plague Facebook? PopCap's chief creative officer Jason Kapalka believes that it won't be long until cheap copycats and their ilk will stop their rapid propagation. "You're definitely in the stage right now in social games where there's a lot of bandwagon jumping, where everyone sees moneymoneymoney and suddenly all these new companies appear," he told "It happened before in mobile, it happened before in casual – in the past it's tended to signal the beginning of the end."

Kapalka isn't suggesting that social games as a whole are going to die. Instead, he says it's the end of a "golden era," where the possibilities of the genre seemed limitless. Now that social gaming has taken root, the realities are becoming more evident: the extraordinary amount of competition, harsher restrictions from Facebook, slowing growth and dwindling margins will make it increasingly difficult for new social games to catch on. "Facebook can't go that much faster," Kapalka added. (Of course, Facebook would disagree.)

While Facebook and social games factor into PopCap's success so far, Kapalka doesn't seem too concerned about any sluggishness in the sector. The reason? PopCap has its hands in enough places to feel secure. "I feel PopCap's really diversified over the last ten years, we've never been necessarily the biggest company doing Xbox games or mobile games, but we've always been able to keep our hands in all these different areas, and sort of shift as necessary to whichever platforms are doing well." Plants vs. Zombies, for example, will continue its expansion to Xbox this week, and Nintendo DS next year.

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