PopCap's 'Lawn of the Dead' and other game names that never were

lawn of the deadPopCap is arguably one of the most universally known casual game developers. If you haven't heard of Bejeweled or Plants vs. Zombies, then you, well, you should be ashamed. OK, maybe that's too harsh – you should get informed, and fast. Those games – along with a handful of others – are some of the biggest call brands in the casual games universe.

At a press lunch at Casual Connect in Seattle, PopCap Creative Director Jason Kapalka tells me that these game names – like most names – weren't necessarily their first choice.

Plants vs. Zombies, for instance, was originally titled 'Lawn of the Dead,' a nod to George Romero's classic zombie film, 'Dawn of the Dead. ' Apparently, the Romero camp wasn't in the mood to play along, so the game ended up with the name Plants vs. Zombies, or PvZ for those in the know.

The match-three game Bejeweled was originally going to be called, simply, Diamond Mine -- not exactly the most compelling name. Eventually it was changed to Bejeweled, even though it didn't go over well with everyone at PopCap. "It reminded me of 'Bedazzled,' that movie starring Liz Hurley and Brendan Frasier," says Kapalka.

Peggle, PopCap's trippy Pachinko-style game -- compete with unicorns and rainbows -- was originally dubbed Pego. Like Peg with an 'o.' Another similarly named game company told PopCap the name was legally a no-go, and so did Kellogg's, which owns Eggo waffles. Apparently anything that rhymes with Eggo (except for Lego) is lawsuit worthy.

Two other fun facts about Peggle:

1. The game was originally going to have a more epic Nordic theme, but in the end it was too complicated to pull off and the designers were asked to use their artistic license to just create different types of funny animals.

2. A universally favored part of Peggle is – when you complete a level – the game blares Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' with fireworks, then your 'Fever Score' is tallied (there's a rainbow involved as well). Kapalka says that over-the-top ending was originally just a placeholder for the game, and the audience loved it so much, that PopCap just left it in.

And that, my dears, is how some of your favorite PopCap game names came to be.
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