PopCap’s Bejeweled is the No. 2 mobile game franchise of all time — with nearly 40 million units sold, second only to Tetris. The Seattle-based company, now part of Electronic Arts, today announced three major changes in the Bejeweled lineup, marking “a new strategic direction” for the franchise on mobile devices.
First, the company will stop selling the 99-cent “Bejeweled 2 + Blitz” for iPhone and iPod touch. That version of the game includes “Bejeweled Blitz,” letting players to challenge their Facebook friends to see who can rack up the highest score in 60 seconds.
In its place, the company will launch a “freemium” version of Bejeweled Blitz for iPhone and iPod touch. It’s part of a broader trend toward distributing games as a free download but then giving gamers the opportunity to pay for extra features and game boosts inside. The new freemium version of Bejeweled Blitz will connect to Facebook much like the previous version did, the company says.
PopCap says it’s the first time it has offered a freemium title.
In addition, the company will launch an all-new version of Bejeweled for the iPhone and iPod Touch for 99 cents with new high-resolution graphics, support for the iPhone’s retina display, and other new features.
Giordano Contestabile, PopCap’s Bejeweled franchise director, says in a news release that the idea is to make games that are even more accessible to an expanding global audience. The company says the new games will be rolling out today.