Gamemaker PopCap has made a decision to alienate some 15,000 of its most loyal gamers by shutting down its long-running online multiplayer games Lucky Penny, Psychobabble, and Atomic Poker next week. The reason? The games don’t bring in enough revenue, and since the multiplayer games involve chat-board communities, they’re difficult to moderate for foul or obscene language.
Psychobabble is a word-scramble game, while Atomic Poker and Lucky Penny (called “Piggy Poker” by fans) are variations on card games, although they aren’t played for real money. And fans are upset: many have been playing these games for years, struck up strong friendships with fellow players, and represent some of PopCap’s longest-standing customers—and the nature of the games means they tend to skew towards older, more-reliable types, making one wonder why PopCap didn’t consider converting the games to a fee-based membership, much as it does with its online games Bejeweled and Chuzzle.
PopCap’s concerns are partly financial, and the company didn’t see a profitable way to convert the games to a new platform or offload them to another company without draining revenue further. The company may also be concerned about legal liability from minors participating in the unmoderated forums.
Fans have launched an online petition to save the games, but you know how those things usually turn out. Maybe PopCap had better hope none of these alienated players convert over to first-person shooters and decide to express their frustration using new-found gaming skills.