In a fireside chat with David Roberts, CEO of PopCap Games (SVP, Electronic Arts) Richard Robinson, President and Co-Founder of Youlu Inc., started by firing away with the main question:
Why the sale of PopCap Games to EA for $1.3 billion last July?
Mr. Roberts said that the main reason for his sale was based on seeing a very good fit in EA after meeting with its CEO. One of the best aspects of the deal was that EA did not intervene in PopCap’s plans here in China. He added that there hasn’t been much change in PopCap after the acquisition because they have been pretty much the same. Part of the deal with EA was for PopCap to come on board it, but in turn EA would also give them independence.
As for PopCap’s secret to building games like Plants vs. Zombies that are fun, engaging and easy to monetize, Mr. Roberts broke it down to this: If games are as good as you can possibly make them, then you can sell them. However, prior to launching a game, he said PopCap finds out where people want to play games and then it tends to follow those places.
In partnership with Tencent, PopCap will soon launch two new games in China – Plants vs. Zombies Great Wall Edition and Three Kingdoms. Plants vs. Zombies Great Wall Edition, which will be launched later this month, was created by the company’s Shanghai studio. It was created in China, for China and adapted with specific Chinese content.
PopCap’s strategy in Asia can be wrapped up in Mr. Roberts’ own words: “What’s gonna happen in Asia, is gonna stay in Asia.” In order to truly understand markets in Asia without approval coming from Seattle, PopCap sees it as essential to create local studios and take trust in the local players.
When asked about licensing and piracy, Mr. Roberts views the latter as an indicator that there is real opportunity for the company to make a market here in China.