Rant about Popcap Games

Remember Popcap Games? They wrote these
really wicky cool games like Bejeweled and Rocket Mania and Alchemy and all
those other nifty things.

One bit I liked was that all their games were in web-enabled form, so I could
try things online before buying or downloading. The downloadable versions were
just Java VM apps, which could run anywhere, so I could play it on my Linux
machines anytime.

Popcap has TOTALLY sold out. Not only are they selling out, they’re
completely misleading their userbase.

G’head. Try one of their ‘online games’. You can play from the Web! Click
through and check them out.

Oh, btw. Make sure you’re running windows. Because their so called ‘web
games’ won’t work on anything but a windows browser environment. Why? Because
they’re all ActiveX games.

NOWHERE do they mention this. Their slick marketing-speak pages go on and on
about wonderful web-games and ‘play now!’ and everything, but at no point do
they mention that they only support Microsoft. Ashamed? Perhaps. Why don’t
they mention that? You know, maybe it’d be bad for business if they proclaimed
that their webgames only work on one monopolies’ platform.

This is part of a disturbing trend. Had a look at Shockwave.com lately? Lots of interesting
games and toys over there. Oh, very few of them are actually Shockwave / Flash
games. They’re mostly downloadable executables for… wait… I’ll let you

Something’s shifting back into the Microsoft camp, and it’s really beginning
to make me twitch.


A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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7 thoughts on “Rant about Popcap Games

  1. I hate to say this, but it’s simple economics.
    At my current gig, the last time I checked:
    Less than 5% of the hits on our front page are something other than Windows+IE.
    Nearly 25% of our helpdesk tickets pertain to issues on non-windows clients.
    If certain of our professional clients didn’t pay us hard cash to maintain a realmedia+mozilla version of our product, we’d dump it in a heartbeat, and I wouldn’t call it anything but the right decision.
    The lead SA at Shockwave/AtomFilms is actually a friend of mine, and his numbers are similar. Four years ago they were coasting on venture funds and Macromedia’s largesse. Now, they have to cover their overhead on their own dime.
    As much as it sucks for those of us on minority platforms, I don’t blame these companies at all for making what is really a pretty straightforward business decision. You say they’re supporting a monopoly: they say they’re supporting their customers and investors.
    (Shockwave, PopCap and the Feedroom are in a particularly hard place here, because we’re all dependent to greater and lesser degrees on (a) browser plugins in general, and (b) Macromedia Flash in particular. Browser plugin support on Mozilla and Safari is horrible, and Flash for Linux and MacOSX sucks ass: it’s one to three revisions behind the Windows version, slow and buggy as hell.)

  2. Revenge of the Nerds

    My former co-worker Dave was grousing about how PopCap Games has moved away from platform-independent java-based games that he could play on his Linux machine to games that use ActiveX, Shockwave, Flash, etc. and only run on Windows. He got…

  3. Hrm. OK, so here’s a thing that isn’t so keen about this blog — you can’t reply to comments, such that the prior poster gets your comment…
    Cause, see, Dr Memory’s statistics are broken. Lots of folks set their browsers to masquerade as IE, because lots of sites are set to deny content to non-IE browsers, even if there is *no* technical reason for such denial.
    This was the case a while back with IIS-hosted sites, mostly for page content which really was using IE-specific HTML. I’m not at all sure why this is returning to such prevalence — because more pages are being set up in standards-compliant HTML and CSS and all…
    I have yet to find a page or site (aside from the ActiveX lameness which *does* force you to use Windows) which said `you’re not compatible, you Safari or Mozilla user, you`, which I could not load and view just fine once I told my browser to masquerade.
    But you know, this is typical of Microsoft. They have lots of tools which are written to open specs and standards, but which are set to say `you’re not using this Microsoft product, so we’re not going to work for you`, and when you set your whatever to masquerade as that Microsoft product — guess what! The tool works just fine! Because it really *doesn’t* require that MS product, it requires the *standard*….
    Really ticks me off.

  4. Thud: actually, our statistics were specifically adjusted for that. Feedroom’s index.html page (index.jsp, but whatevah) was one big javascript sniffer program that attempted through various convolutions to determine not only what browser you were using but what plugins you had. Based on the results of that sniff, you would get a 3xx redirect to one of several possible “front” pages, which in turn fired off a second browser window in which the player application actually ran. We derived the browser statistics based on successful full loads of that last window — and trust me, merely changing the user-agent string in the browser was not sufficient to get the site to work under Linux.
    We did eventually code up a severely interface-deprived version of the site that works on Linux with Mozilla and RealPlayer when Sun paid us to, but it’s fuuuuuugly. You can compare and contrast yourself: http://www.feedroom.com/
    If anything, I suspect that the Feedroom represented an over-optimistic view of the current browser usage breakdown, since we were known for actually putting effort into maintaining a mac+real version of the site that more or less worked, as compared to our competitors (broadcast.com, yahoo, cnn, etc) who literally couldn’t be paid enough to care.
    And again, I emphasize: non-microsoft browsers didn’t get second-tier support from us because we were on Bill’s payroll or just because we wanted to be evil: they got second-tier support because just about any technology that our site employed beyond plain-old HTML — Flash, RealPlayer, WMPlayer, Javascript, you name it — was implemented badly, if at all under non-windows platforms.
    Honestly, Microsoft’s bad acting in this sphere pales in comparison to Apple, Netscape and Mozilla.org’s admirable but largely suicidal devotion to implementing a set of standards that were largely of interest to w3c wonks (CSS2; DHTML; DOM) instead of actually studying what it was that web developers liked about IE as an environment and learning from it. (Well, that plus mozilla’s decision to waste three years — three fucking years — writing Yet Another Cross-Platform Widget Set while Microsoft beat them senseless with one hand tied behind their back.) This is a step in the right direction, but is about three years overdue.
    And honestly, your value of “lots” of people using browser masquerading is pure self-selection bias: you see a lot of people doing this because most of your friends are other computer geeks. Under Safari, you need to enable a debug menu from the command line to masquerade. Under Mozilla, you need a third-party extension or you need to edit prefs.js by hand. Non-geeks do not do these things, and I guarantee you that they outnumber us by several orders of magnitude. 🙂

  5. popcap was cool then i went to it and it didnt work. i am so pissed off i might just have a BF (bi**h fit) i am going to smack the founder of popcap so hard it will make his hair on his head fall off. i swear to god all mighty i am going to have a bf and when i do im going to write a letter asking why i dont get to play typer shark. so if i dont get to play typer shark by tomorrow i will march down to where ever the hell youguys are and write a letter saying that you guys suck pineapples
    Love your mom is great in bed

  6. Hey i am a student and i like to play Typer Shark but when ever i want to play it it never works its ur guys’ fault because i didnt break it i was so mad when i couldnt play it. it was addicting and i liked it but when i tried to play it it didnt work. So you guys need to get off your a**’s
    and fix the fu**ing promblem
    thanx bye

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