June 2nd, 2009

If I can’t be at E3 — silly upcoming wedding and apartment hunt, grumble grumble — I might as well be playing something, and right now Plants vs. Zombies seems to be the thing. According to Garth Chouteau, PR man extraordinaire, it’s Popcap’s fastest selling game to date. Exactly how many copies have been sold is classified info, but Garth did say:

After three weeks of availability we’ve sold considerably more copies of the game than any previous game in PopCap’s history, including Bejeweled and Peggle! The theme has fortuitously ended up appealing to consumers of all ages and all stripes. We’re hearing from grandmothers who love the game, hardcore gamers who appreciate the depth of play and the tongue-in-cheek humor and inside jokes, as well as from parents of kids as young as 6 or 7 who are enjoying the game as family fun.

Does anyone else love the idea of grandmothers playing a zombie game? I’m enjoying Plants vs. Zombies myself, though I’m nowhere near as addicted as I was to Peggle or Bookwork Adventures. Even if I’m not a total plant lover yet, you can’t write “eating my brains” not in frantic capital letter, can you? In particular I’m liking how the game adapts tower defense, making it not only adorable but also approachable. Plus it’s the first time a Popcap title has been available for Mac at release. What can I say? Not only do I like ironic zombies, I’m also impatient.

The timing — and popularity — of Plants vs. Zombies is perfect for me, as I’m working on a longer project about the connection between technology and the undead in pop culture. Why zombies? Why now? Here’s how game creator George Fan explained added brain-eaters to his otherwise floral title:

A ton of gardening games started coming out in the casual games space, and man, I just couldn’t take it! I didn’t want the game to just blend in amongst all the other gardening games. And that’s how the zombies came about. I thought “No way is anyone else gonna make a game that features both plants *and* zombies!” And I was right!

Thus Plants vs. Zombies was born, and has been leaving trails of mind-munched players in its wake since coming out in early May. My personal soft spot for the game might also have something to do with the latest round of Popcap swag: plants! It’s easy to be peeved at giant gems, but how can you feel cynical around lima beans growing on your windowsill? That reminds me, have I watered those today? I’m off to attend to my own anti-zombie army.

P.S. If you haven’t already, check out the Plants vs. Zombies music video. Like an eerie infection it lodges itself in your brain. Insert highly relevant “viral” marketing pun here.

Tags: casual games, monsters, new games, swag

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