house PopCap Games on Monday announced the new experimental games label and design center 4th & Battery
, which will create "smaller, simpler and sometimes edgier" games.
The company said the design center, named after the street intersection where PopCap headquarters is located, will encourage developers to create games without the constraints of being part of a large global company.
"4th & Battery is a pressure valve intended to keep our heads from exploding," said PopCap EVP Ed Allard. "The PopCap brand has become closely associated with ultra-high quality, polish and attention to detail -- which is a great thing."
He added, "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," said Allard.
The first title out of the new label is the free iPhone and iPod Touch game Unpleasant Horse
], arriving on the App Store later this month.
A far cry from PopCap's Bejeweled
, players take control of a "strikingly unpleasant" winged horse that destroys small birds and lands on "more pleasant horses" from above, knocking the nice ponies "earthward into a perpetual meat grinder for extra points."
The new label plans to release several smaller-scale, arcade-style titles per year for platforms including PC, Facebook and iPhone. Some of the games from 4th & Battery, including Unpleasant Horse
, will be aimed at mature audiences, PopCap said.
"4th & Battery is a purely experimental, creative label with none of the typical concerns like schedules, profitability, or even target audience," said PopCap chief creative officer and co-founder Jason Kapalka. "It's kind of the video game equivalent of B-sides or short films. Expect weirdness."