PopCap Games Launching New Label With Free iOS Game, ‘Unpleasant Horse’

PopCap Games has a squeaky clean image. After all, it’s hard to find anything offensive about “Bejeweled” or “Peggle” unless you’re really against the mining industry or the employment of unicorns. And while no one would consider PopCap a hardcore games company, plenty of hardcore gamers fell in love with “Plants vs. Zombies.” The problem, it seems, is that PopCap is notoriously…shall we say patient…about releasing games. Despite their deceptive simplicity, most of PopCap’s big hits have taken a year or two of development time, and these days, that’s just too long. Their solution is to launch a new label dedicated to producing smaller, quirkier games at a much faster rate. That label is 4th & Battery.

Here’s what Ed Allard, EVP of Studios at PopCap, had to say about the rationale for the new label:

“The PopCap brand has become closely associated with ultra-high quality, polish and attention to detail — which is a great thing. But our standard game development process is therefore long and involved, and doesn’t really accommodate all of the creativity pumping through our collective veins. 4th & Battery gives us a way to quickly try really strange or marginal ideas, and to give our designers a safe area to hone their chops.”

It’s an exciting prospect, given PopCap’s pedigree of making excellent games, but certainly it’ll be a while before we see any of these 4th & Battery games ourselves, right? Wrong! “Unpleasant Horse” is coming to iOS sometime this month for the very reasonable price of free.

The description of “Unpleasant Horse” sounds a bit like “Gauntlet,” as you’re tasked with “destroying small birds and landing on more pleasant horses from above.” Apparently stomped horses get sent directly into a meat grinder. So yeah, a bit different than PopCap’s usual, family-friendly style.