News this morning reports that gaming juggernaut Electronic Arts has swallowed another company. No longer content to run the SimCity name into the ground, EA bought out Flash specialists PopCap for $650 million. As unannounced as it is expensive, this move contradicts previous mentions of a public offering being the financial plans for PopCap. Could this deal mean current EA franchise crossovers into PopCap games, resulting in combinations like Sims vs. Zombies?
This acquisition should send a warning signal for opposing companies that casual gaming is an untapped market for takeover, with Facebook game developers Zynga standing out as a prime choice. Given the rivalry between Electronic Arts and Activision, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more casual game takeovers from the latter. And while Zynga is the most appealing choice, the pleasantly obstinate nature of CEO/founder Mark Pincus will probably prevent any changes in ownership. However, EA seems to be mobilizing an armada as hinted at by their CEO’s recent comment to the New York Times that,
“We’re not going to knock down Zynga tomorrow — they’ve got a great business — but we’ve got an opportunity to close that gap.”
But fear not, PopCap fans, for not all will be lost. The company founders will join EA as supervisors and overseers, hopefully using their ombudsman roles to keep things in line. Here’s to the future – more Dante’s Bejeweled for everyone!