Electronic Arts (EA) has purchased casual gaming experts PopCap in a deal which will see them become a major rival to current casual gaming king, Zynga.
The deal, which won’t be confirmed until August at the earliest, will see EA paying $650 million in cash and a further $100 million in stock options. PopCap, which was founded in 2000, is the developer of some of the most well known casual gaming titles, such as Bejeweled, Zuma and Plants Vs Zombies. The company posted a profit of around $100 million last year and has had its games downloaded over 1.5 billion times on platforms from smartphones to PCs and consoles.
EA has dipped its toe in the casual gaming market previously with the $400 million purchase of developers Playfish, which has helped the company bring its stable of console titles to platforms such as Facebook where it now has a large presence with 32 million active users every month. It will be hoping that the expertise of PopCap will allow it to expand the range of titles available on these platforms to include such games as Battlefield, Fifa and The Sims. Conversely, it will also look to put more of PopCap's titles on console devices, an area where EA has a lot of experience.
"EA and PopCap are a compelling combination," said EA CEO John Riccitiello. "PopCap's great studio talent and powerful IP add to EA's momentum and accelerate our drive towards a $1bn digital business. EA's global studio and publishing network will help PopCap rapidly expand their business to more digital devices, more countries, and more channels."
With Zynga recently announcing its IPO, and Disney last year purchasing Playdom for over $750 million the area of casual gaming is set to become anything but for the companies staking billions of dollars on its future success and popularity.