Via WoW Insider comes that news that PopCap Games is releasing a free (!) version of their Bejeweled game as an addon for WoW. This, of course, isn't the first version of Bejeweled to make it into an MMORPG; that distinction goes to the crappy inventory management system in Hellgate: London that required players to manually re-sort all the junk in their bags in order to loot items they had more than enough space for. Somehow, though, I suspect that this version may be slightly more fun. ;)
My first reaction was that this represents a triumph of entrepreneurial spirit; the demand exists, and I would have seriously considered an investment of $5 or even $10 for a minigame to play while waiting for flight paths and other such downtime. Then I actually read the article and noticed that the thing is free. Maybe they really did just do this because they like WoW? Since it does not sound like this is an official Blizzard licensed product, they probably can't charge any money whatsoever, or even run their usual "wouldn't you rather be paying for this game than playing it for free" ads in between levels without spawning a pack of Enraged Dire Vivendi Lawyers. I guess perhaps they think the PR value of getting WoW players to their website to try their products is worth the dev time?
My second reaction is that it's a sad, sad state of affairs when there is so much downtime and travel time (see my archives on this topic, occasionally with a side of rant) that there's actually interest in a game you play during all the downtime during the game that you are supposedly playing. If Bejeweled for WoW actually keeps me from spending autoflight time on some combination of bio breaks, checking WoWhead, or even surfing the comments and blogroll here at PVD, I suppose that's progress. Still, if I'm breaking out another game to play instead of sitting mindlessly watching the scenery zip by, I think we can safely argue that I'm not really appreciating how immersive the size of the world is. That removes almost all of the arguments in favor of making players wait for the full travel time it takes to cross continents in the first place.
Bottom line? How about, instead of Bejeweled, we get a shortcut that skips ahead to the last leg of any given flight point, so that we can actually play the MMORPG we're paying to play?
P.S. I hope PopCap coded this thing to disable itself when the player enters PVP battlegrounds, or they might be in for some negative PR courtesy of the "AFK-Bejeweled" crowd.