Why Solitaire Blitz wasn't the next Words With Friends

Solitaire Blitz screens
Solitaire Blitz screens

The first Facebook game in PopCap Games's successful lineup of "Blitz" releases based on an original idea and intellectual property, the studio expected Solitaire Blitz to go out like gangbusters. But things didn't exactly go off without a hitch.

Solitaire Blitz is no doubt a success. But it's not the breakout chart-topper that lead designer Jason Mai and producer Jared Neuss had envisioned when the entire fifth floor of PopCap headquarters was hooked on the game before it was even finished. During a session at GDC Online 2012 in Austin, Tex., Mai and Neuss told he story of Solitaire Blitz from conception to launch and where it is today.

First known as Pearl Diver, Solitaire Blitz went through several design and art iterations before it evolved into the game you (hopefully-it's pretty fantastic) play today. For instance, things as seemingly innocuous as the look and placement of the "Play" button went through numerous revisions after play testing to get it just right.

The same goes for character design, such as the mermaid players are greeted by upon every login. (Seen above, PopCap could have gone in many directions with the look of its characters.) However, seemingly insignificant omissions, like a multi-friend selector for sharing with or inviting friends, ensured that Solitaire Blitz wouldn't see astronomical success, according to Neuss. (But it sure is there now.)

On the flip side, the social take on solitaire saw several ideas hit the cutting room floor, worked to its benefit. For instance, Mai and his team had brewed up over 20 boosts, which were cut to a more manageable 14 and were cycled through five at a time randomly each week.

Solitaire Blitz screen shots
Solitaire Blitz screen shots

Many players are likely puzzled when a game they wholeheartedly enjoy isn't the ubiquitous time sink that everyone is talking about. Perhaps something as simple (and dry) as a multi-friend selector can mean the difference between an addictive, inventive Facebook game and what sparks the next miniature zeitgeist.

Are you still digging Solitaire Blitz since its launch? If not, what do you think of it currently? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.