Electronic Arts has confirmed earlier reports that they have purchased casual gaming giant Popcap. The final terms of the deal are a $650m purchase price, as well as $100m worth of shares of EA common stock. There are also $550m worth of financial incentives based on sales numbers by 2013.
EA CEO John Riccitiello has stated that the Popcap purchase will help drive EA towards a $1bn business in the digital space, and that EA’s resources will help Popcap games expand to further channels and countries. Popcap CEO David Roberts stated that he picked Electronic Arts “because they have recast their culture around making great digital games”. It is currently unclear what position Mr. Roberts will have once Popcap has been fully incorporated.
EA is planning to use the Popcap purchase, along with earlier purchases of Playfish, Pogo and the recent acquisition of smaller social company Ohai, as well as the recently released Origin digital retail platform, to push further into the digital and social gaming markets.
Popcap is the developer of the hugely popular Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies games, among other casual titles.
Analysis: What I said when I reported on this earlier holds true: this is not so much about Bejeweled and PVZ as it is about Origin. Those stakes have been raised recently, assuming EA leaving Steam off its list of legal Battlefield 3 distributors is intentional. EA wants to create as much of a power play for that system as it possibly can, and with Popcap’s purchase, there remains the possibility that the entire Popcap lineup of games could go the way of Crysis 2 in disappearing off of Steam.
This is just the beginning. EA is going to continue to shove Origin down everyone’s throats. This is not for the sake of consumers or their choice (recent comments by EA’s David DeMartini state otherwise, but I’m going to go right out and say, for the record, that David DeMartini is lying to our faces), this is about making Origin feel like a requirement to play games that we want to play. If EA can figure out a way to do that, use Popcap as another way to stick it to Steam, and then blame it on Steam’s business terms and make them look like the bad guy, they will do it.