Report puts $1bn price on PopCap acquisition

Report puts $1bn price on PopCap acquisition
Michael French

By Michael French

June 22nd 2011 at 10:49PM

Rumours suggest big-money swoop could be made by Zynga, EA or DeNA

Seattle HQ'd PopCap Games is on the verge of a $1bn acquisition, according to TechCrunch.

The technology and investment site says tipsters have told it the lucrative deal will see the firm snapped up by another gaming giant - a move that would come ahead of the casual games leader's planned IPO.

TechCrunch names Zynga, EA and DeNA as the most likely suitors.

So what of the potential suspects?

Facebook games leader Zynga has been on a roll of acquisitions, picking up all sorts of talent and teams globally as it marches to become one of the biggest gaming firms in the world.

DeNA, meanwhile, has been slowly pushing out from its Japanese heartland into the West, acquiring Ngmoco and scoring a number of key Western mobile games for its free-to-play Asia mobile Mobage network.

And EA has made no secret of its plans to become a 'digital publisher', recently relaunching its EA Store as the Origin download service. It has twice made major moves to tap into the casual market PopCap has helped define; firstly by creating a label just called Casual (now known as EA Play), and more recently buying social games firm Playfish and setting up the EAi division to look at online and mobile games. It also owns the Pogo.com casual site.

For any of the above, PopCap and its slate of popular IPs, almost bullet-proof company brand and expert skills would be an idea addition to its business.

Develop understands that EA specifically entered early buyout talks with PopCap in 2006, but the negotiations never progressed fully.

PopCap owns a number of studios and offices around the world - including its Dublin studio, recently nominated for a Develop Award - and is known for casual games hits such as Bejewelled, Peggle, Plants vs Zombies, amongst many others. The firm was founded in 2000.