EA mobile gaming gets a power-up with PopCap acquisition

EA, already a massive player in the mobile gaming arena, has purchased Bejeweled publisher PopCap Games in a deal that could be worth up to $1.3 billion. EA has paid $650 million, plus $100m in stock, with the deal expected to be finalised in August.

As well as Bejeweled, PopCap is also the company behind massively addictive games such as Zuma and Plants vs Zombies and its titles have been downloaded over 1.5 billion times.

It was thought that PopCap might float publicly, but co-founder John Vechey said that a complete take-over will enable the company's culture to live on.

"The IPO was fraught with risk; it was scary; people were going to start thinking about the stock price all the time. Most employees were worried about that internally," he said.

"Now, instead of getting a couple hundred million in the bank for us to spend, we get world-class publishing. I think for us it accelerates what we were going to do by many years. We're going to be seven years faster to achieving world gameplay domination."

"Quite frankly they are the Pixar of the space," said Barry Cottle, executive vice president of EA Interactive. "Our goal right here is they keep doing what they do, that they do so extremely well, and there's just some natural synergies we can bring to the table that we can expand and make these guys bigger and stronger and more powerful."

With Google investing heavily in Zynga and Disney taking over Playdom, not to mention EA's previous buyout of Ohai, it's a clear indication that the mobile and casual gaming market is experiencing a serious boom time - global revenues are set to hit $74bn this year according to research firm Gartner.

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