17 May

Vickers Venture Partners recently revealed a $3 million investment in American McGee’s China-based studio Spicy Horse,  the casual games maker teaming with the Shanghai office of PopCap for the first title within the new deal. The upcoming game is expected to be 3D online title, although little else is known at this time.

“The sense is that while a lot of social games have built their empires on 2D, there will be a moment where the genre has to shift into 3D, and we want to start that process now,” McGee stated in an interview with Gamasutra,”[Spicy Horse needs to] prove that experience can translate to 3D, and maintain that casual audience — so we want to be there as that wave starts to come up.”

McGee continued, describing his change of country as a focused business decision reflected in a change of motivation, “The reason I originally came to China is that I wanted to get into that new model — I wanted to get away from console game production and retail, disc-based sales.”

“Spicy Horse is well-positioned to become a major player in this new wave of 3D online casual games that will be the next big thing for gaming,” said Jeff Chi, managing director at Vickers Venture Partners. “Spicy Horse has an experienced management team with world class 3D game development capabilities and a vision that sets the company on the frontier of online gaming both in China and globally.”

And that isn’t the only deal made by PopCap in the last week. The publisher has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Amazon’s App Store, which has the studio’s next two Android releases being exclusives to the platform. Both Chuzzle and Plants vs. Zombies will be made available for free for their first two weeks on sale, then priced to $2.99.

Giordano Bruno Contestabile, senior director of global product and business strategy for mobile at PopCap, explained, “Our relationship with Amazon is pivotal to PopCap’s overall strategy in bringing a growing roster of mobile titles to the ever-widening base of smartphone users…By making these titles available on the Android platform, we’ll significantly extend the reach of our top franchises to legions of new mobile customers and gaming fans alike.”

Amazon’s Aaron Rubenson stated, “PopCap is a brand synonymous with great mobile games, and we’re thrilled to offer our customers Chuzzle and Plants vs Zombies for Android exclusively through the Amazon Appstore.”