PopCap Games, the leading developer and publisher of casual games, today announced that BejeweledÂ® Blitz, the 1-minute version of its mega-hit franchise Bejeweled for Facebook, has officially launched and is now out of beta. Relying entirely on its own merits, the â€œsocialâ€ version of Bejeweled has become a Facebook phenomenon, attracting more than 5 million monthly users after quietly debuting in beta form in late December of 2008. With new users joining at a rapidly increasing rate, Bejeweled Blitz now adds a new friend to the fold every second.
â€œOne-minute Bejeweled was initially an in-house joke,â€ said Jason Kapalka, PopCapâ€™s chief creative officer, â€œbecause whoâ€™d think anyone would play a â€˜casualâ€™ game with such a frenzied time limit? But it turned out the one-minute timer actually made the game more accessible, as a bite-size entertainment for people busy doing other things on Facebook.â€ John Vechey, PopCapâ€™s head of online and social projects, added, â€œThe social nature of the game felt like the missing link. Playing Bejeweled on your own was always fun, but playing with and against family and friends takes it to another level.â€
While PopCap is not providing any details of its future plans for social versions of its other hits such as Peggleâ„¢, ZumaÂ®, Bookwormâ„¢, Plants vs. Zombiesâ„¢ and Chuzzleâ„¢, the success of Bejeweled Blitz is intriguing. More than 75% of the 5 million monthly active users are female and so far over 1 billion sessions of the game have been served. At this juncture the game, in which players race to score as many points as possible in a 60-second version of the worldâ€™s most popular match-3 puzzler, attracts 2 million players daily.
â€œSocial gaming is a catalyst for growth in the games market and in social network services,â€ said Billy Pidgeon, video games analyst at Game Changer Research. â€œGiving consumers more communal and connected ways to enjoy video game content with their ever-growing online networks drives awareness and usage of the game in question while also making the gameplay experience itself richer and more compelling. Accessible and entertaining games on social networks are in effect massively multiplayer experiences that appeal to everyone.â€