Michael Fromwiller, an admitted World of Warcraft (Twitter tag #WoW) addict, was bored. The San Jose State undergrad student and amateur game programmer loves the massive multipler online game World of Warcraft, but hates the downtime before and during long battles. For example, sometimes it will take other players in your team up to an hour to trade weapons and decide on a strategy before going into battle.
So in an effort to relieve his own bordom, Fromwiller created a clone of the popular puzzle game Bejeweled called Besharded that can be played within the World of Warcraft game interface. Fromwiller shared his Bejeweled clone with a few friends, then they shared it with a few friends and the next thing he knew, Besharded was the talk of the World of Warcraft community. What started as a personal pet project became a huge hit.
A screen shot of Besharded
PopCap Games, the company that publishes Bejeweled eventually found out about Besharded. But thier reaction has surprised a lot of people. Instead of acting like the RIAA and gathering hordes of lawyers to write a barrage of cease and desist letters and prepare billions of lawsuits, PopCap Games gave Fromwiller a job.
The official Bejeweled version
On Thursday, October 2nd, Bejeweled will appear as a free downloadable add-on for World of Warcraft. PopCap Games has even made a few improvements to Fromwiller’s Besharded version. The World of Warcraft version of Bejeweled has a high score list and if you happen to stumble into combat while playing Bejeweled, mini game screen will disappear and let you return to the battle.
So how does Blizzard, the makers of World of Warcraft feel about this? Not much. They haven’t enthusiastically endorced the Bejeweled add-on. Doing so would be an admission that World of Warcraft is boring. But they aren’t trying to stop it either.