PopCap launches new small games label, 4th and Battery

PopCap have announced the formation of a new small games label, 4th & Battery. Named after the cross streets of the game maker’s Seattle headquarters, the studio within a studio will act, according to Executive Vice President Ed Allard,  as “a pressure valve intended to keep [their] heads from exploding.”

“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,” said Allard. “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] is a purely experimental, creative label with none of the typical concerns like schedules, profitability, or even target audience. It’s kind of the video game equivalent of B-sides or short films,” added PopCap co-founder Jason Kapalka. “Expect weirdness.”

Weird is one way to describe their first release, Unpleasant Horse, a game about a “strikingly unpleasant” winged horse that enjoys killing small birds and forcing all the happier horses down into a “perpetual meat grinder” to earn extra points and special bonuses. The meat grinder doesn’t play favorites, so you’ll have to keep bouncing on clouds, birds and the more pleasant horses to prevent your much deserved demise. Sounds screwed? Try fabulous. Look for the free iPhone and iPod Touch game in the App Store later this month.