Biggest and smallest game launches of 2011 today

PopCap games celebrate launch of Bejeweled 3 in a tea room
PopCap games celebrate launch of Bejeweled 3 in a tea room

The new expansion pack for Blizzard's World of Warcraft launches later tonight, in what is sure to be one of the biggest and glitziest game launches since last month's launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Yet in a direct juxtaposition to this triple-A PR frenzy, today also sees the smallest games launch taking place in a London living room over tea and cakes.

Casually hardcore

"Forget A-list celebs and paparazzi," says PopCap games, heralding the low-key launch of Bejeweled 3. "This is the antithesis to the blockbuster-style video game launches we are used to seeing, with guests including the Clapham WI secretary, a retired schoolteacher and a librarian."

PopCap claims that a recent study into gamers reveals that average gamer is a 45-year-old mum of grown-up children, with her own games console as well as laptop and MP3 player.

Try telling that to the hardcore Warcraft horde crowing Oxford Street's game stores at midnight tonight!

Back at the official Bejeweled 3 launch event earlier today, journalists saw "no glitz beyond that of the iconic in-game gems" as well as a "a cross section of the UK's most prolific casual video gamers: a Women's Institute secretary; a Welsh librarian; a glamorous banker and a trendy dad.

An octogenarian granny of 12 pulled out at the last minute through illness - so we are sending best wishes for a swift recovery.

Neil Shah from the Stress Management Society was on hand to promote the game's new 'stress-busting' Zen mode, with PopCap also citing un-attributed 'scientific research' claiming the game's new mode "is a great idea for helping players chill out even more and put all their worries to one side."

PopCap's Cathy Orr, added: "Videogaming has become as mainstream a lifestyle entertainment as watching TV or reading a book so we couldn't think of a better place to launch Bejeweled 3 than a living room. Bejeweled is a phenomenon appealing to the widest possible audience of everyone - men and women, aged 6 to 106, from kids to glamorous businessmen and women to grandparents."

Breath modulation, ambient sounds, binaural beats and mantras for focusing your thoughts, it all does, admittedly, sound very zen.

But how many of use really know any 106-year-old gamers. Really?

Still, for more on Bejeweled 3, check out

Adam Hartley