EA PopCap hops on the merchandising wagon

Starting this spring, PopCap Games fans will start seeing a line of licensed consumer products based on the casual game giant’s core franchises like Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled.

The licensed PopCap products range from lifestyle items like wall decals and earphones to plush toys and apparel. PopCap has similar merchandise in the past — but only in Asia. The first products, based on Plants vs. Zombies, hit shelves this spring with additional brands arriving throughout the beginning of 2013.

The temptation is to compare PopCap’s licensing to Rovio’s, whose Angry Birds products span a range of toys and apparel world wide. Speaking to Inside Mobile Apps, PopCap director of brand licensing Brennan Townley, says that even though Rovio did open up a whole new audience to casual games merchadise, PopCap merchandise will be distinct.

“From a strategy standpoint, we’re doing it the PopCap way — thoughtfully and deliberately and hopefully it’ll make you laugh,” Townley says. “Some things will be in line with Angry Birds and some things will be very different.”

We’ve seen other developers like Zynga use merchandise as a way to connect the online and offline consumer experience, sometimes offering redeemable codes that unlock virtual goods in its Facebook games. Townley says that this is the ultimate goal for PopCap merchandise, but that nothing definitely has been planned for any of the announced products.

“We’re doing this to expand our core. Wherever I can drive users back to our games and create a unique experience — we’re going to explore those opportunities,” he says. “Some of these products aren’t launching for months, so there are things to catch up on between now and then.”

From the press release, here’s the list of product types and the companies developing them:

  • Bioworld Merchandising — apparel, headwear, bags and accessories
  • Jazwares– plush toys, figures and electronic accessories including headphones, USBs, speakers and device cases
  • Walls360 — wall graphics featuring individual characters and exclusive bundles
  • Funko! — Plants vs. Zombies versions of its Pop! Vinyl Figurines
  • MjC International — adult sleepwear and boxers
  • Trends International — calendars and posters