PopCap to be acquired for more than $1 billion?

[UPDATE] Bejeweled, Peggle creator said to be evaluating purchase offers from unnamed buyers; Zynga, EA, Tencent named as possible suitors; more sources point to EA.

Source: AOL's technology blog TechCrunch.

What we heard: Casual game studios have been snapped up by big-time companies in droves of late, with the likes of PlayFish, Chillingo, Playdom, and Ngmoco all being acquired for, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars. Now, it appears as if casual gaming stalwart PopCap Games is the next studio in line for a massive payday.

Multiple unnamed sources have reportedly informed TechCrunch that a buyer is looking to dole out more than $1 billion to acquire PopCap. The price is apparently 10 times as much as PopCap's yearly revenues, which TechCrunch reports are around $100 million-$150 million.

Is Bejeweled a billion dollar franchise?

The problem, however, is that TechCrunch's sources have no idea who the buyer could be. FarmVille creator Zynga, which is reportedly mulling an initial public offering, is said to be one potential purchaser. However, TechCrunch's sources indicate that Zynga backed off the deal due to PopCap's high asking price.

Beyond Zynga, TechCrunch reports Electronic Arts or an Asian game company, such as Call of Duty Online service provider Tencent, could be potential suitors.

[UPDATE] Following on from yesterday's report, TechCrunch reports that it has received word from two additional sources that the mystery buyer is, in fact, EA. TechCrunch's sources also characterized the negotiations as being in a "late stage."

PopCap is perhaps best known for its Bejeweled franchise, which has sold more than 50 million units since first release in 2000. The most recent installment, Bejeweled 3, arrived for the PC in December and is expected to hit other platforms later this year. The Washington-based studio has also found success with such franchises as Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies.

The official story: "Per company policy, we do not comment on rumors and speculation of this nature."--A PopCap representative. Electronic Arts had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.

Bogus or not bogus?: Probably not bogus that the casual-obsessed market would be giving PopCap a long, hard look. However, as recent as last week, PopCap cofounder John Vechey told the Wall Street Journal that the company is mulling its own IPO for later this year. As such, this deal, should it be in the works, is anything but finalized.

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Discussion

42 comments
razgriz_101
razgriz_101

all i want is peggle 2 :P EA's more than likely looking for a good studio in this sector and see Popcap as a perfect fit for them to have their hand in the casual honey pot.Dont think EA would be dumb enough to start charging $60 for bejewelled considering its sucessful due to its cheap simplistic nature.

Smokescreened84
Smokescreened84

I like Popcap games, they can be a nice side game to play when you're not in the mood for something bigger. Though if EA buys them then I have my doubts, especailly after Dragon Age 2 being rushed out like it was earlier this year when it clearly needed more development time. If EA promised not to interfere then maybe Popcap's games would continue to be enjoyable side games, maybe. Guess we'll see what the future holds.

itchyflop
itchyflop

@Xplode_77 i agree totally man!!! well liked mainstream gaming fun and hey its not call of duty so bonus !!!

drokmore
drokmore

The casual industry has money to be made and the big dogs see that. Unfortunately is likely a fleeting one as well. The problem with casual games though is while they may sell millions of units, each unit aint that expensive. People are not willing to pay top dollar for casualness.

Xplode_77
Xplode_77

Stay independent, my friend.

XeonForce
XeonForce

PopCap has always blended indie style and casual fluff into something that is generally wonderful. I would hate to see them bought out by Zynga and turned into Facebook game designers... *shivers*

bsnimunf
bsnimunf

@raicegeriko I very much doubt anyone would pay $20 for bejeweled $5 maybe. I also doubt the buyer is planning to sell bejeweled for $20.

bsnimunf
bsnimunf

@raicegeriko I very much doubt anyone would pay $20 for bejeweled $5 maybe. I very much doubt the buyer is planning to sell bejeweled for $20.

guildclaws
guildclaws

1 billion$??? that's a lot of money :o

RaiceGeriko
RaiceGeriko

If these games were so great, then YOU would spend money on them. So I ask you - would you really shell out $60 to play Bejewled? I don't think so. You might be willing to do $20, though. And I can understand that. There is a huge market for games that sell for that price. These games are usually either 2 years old or they are generally thought of as "budget games" that are really, really bad. So please. Stop saying these games are good or "Better than anything EA produced last year." Because that's total nonsense. EA produced several games last year, and at least 2 of them are considered to be the best in their genre ever made - Mass Effect 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. And I only say EA as an example. Other companies like Ubisoft (Assassin's Creed) and Activision (Call of Duty) also had really great titles. These are real games that I am willing to shell out $60 to play. These are games that are so good, I was willing to put my money where my mouth was.

RaiceGeriko
RaiceGeriko

Bejeweled and these other free casual games are kind of like Tetris. And honestly, I never liked Tetris in the first place, because it was a kind of game that wasn't that interesting. Although, at the time, there wasn't really anything else like it - it was pretty innovative. But, a lot of people did and still do. Personally, it was just never my cup of tea. Now, I can appreciate that some people really love these types of games. And, I can also appreciate that Tetris became popular during an era when there really wasn't a lot of competition, and was released on a portable console which is a perfect platform for a Puzzle/Casual game like Tetris. Yes, I know Tetris was first a computer game, but it didn't become the phenomenon it was until it was released for the Gameboy. On the Gameboy - Tetris made sense. Still, I can also differentiate between the people who really love these kinds of games (because they love puzzle games) from the ones who just love the fact that they have a game they can play that they literally paid next to nothing for. The point is, these games are not "great" games. They're actually not even "good" games. In fact, they're really just somewhat decent. The fact that these games make money doesn't prove that they are fun games. It only proves that people will play anything when they don't have to pay for it. And when large groups of people gather together (for any reason at all) Advertisements will be there at any cost.

isaacmj
isaacmj

Popcap deserves more respect. They make fun and cheap games even if they are "casual". But if Zynga buys it, we're all doomed.

BigRigs93
BigRigs93

I enjoy Causal games for what they are but 1Billion $ is well too much. Even for PopCap.

Kastigador
Kastigador

I can see why there's such a high asking price. The casual gaming phenomenon snuck up on the major game companies. Nobody really expected facebook or a smartphone to ever be a major gaming deliver platform, at least not so quickly. The rapid growth and success of high volume micro-purchases is really attractive. Combine that with the comparatively low price to develop and deliver these games and you got a winning formula in an unsaturated market. that all said, I love popcap, but 10x revenue asking price is pretty high. Someone is being greedy and hoping for a huge paycheck. I'd still say it was high if that was 10x net profit, IMHO. I don't think branding and marketing is nearly as strong with casual gamers as it is with enthusiasts. If you buy popcap for 1 billion, you wont see that pay off for ten years at a bare minimum. In ten years the landscape could change completely and you just wasted a crap ton of capital on a uninnovated formulaic brand or series of games that no one cares about anymore. I think the 10x asking price is based off what they think their market valuation is going to be if they go public. Problem is, an IPO is no small feat and costs a ton of money. They need to come back down to earth.

Marasca2
Marasca2

Well, i may say i had more fun with Plants vs. Zombies than any EA game released in the last 12 months. If EA buys this, we can forget the fun 2D games and expect frustrating 3D games.

atopp399
atopp399

A lot of these games are free(ad based) or really cheap. If EA or someone gets them the games will probably start costing $4.99 or more and will not likely have an ad based version which would definitely put a damper on sales/downloads.

valcrist09
valcrist09

1billion $ really? sounds like a big waste of money if you ask me.. Sadly a company like this is being bought for then Bioware was... Dont get me wrong i enjoy Popcap games but no way in Fing hell are they even worth close to a billion $ in my mind..

icym
icym

one billion? if there was to be a gaming "bubble", social/casual gaming is probably it.

wexorian
wexorian

Ea knows what he's doing if you ask me they got experience in casual,free games

mtait01
mtait01

Bejeweled, Plants vs Zombies, Peggle... they are all great game and as we can gather from recent past with the Wii and Kinect, casual gaming is where the money is

Boomer76
Boomer76

haha one billion dollars for popcap seriously wtf ?

FoeCrusher
FoeCrusher

Ok people lets get on it. Lets make some games so we can get our $1 billion payout.

Sorrow_42
Sorrow_42

Brace your selves EA is branching out.....I hope PopCap knows what its doing.

Wartotehlock
Wartotehlock

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

JOKER677
JOKER677

I think its worth that much, you look at how most people play games, on their phones. These games are the ones that people download and play more because they are cheap and don't have a large learning curve.

blackace
blackace

Whoever is paying 1 billion for this company is going to lose a ton of money. It's not even worth close to that. $200 million at the most. I hope Microsoft isn't thinking about paying that amount for that company. Let Activision or EA have that so they can go bankrupt.

ofiki100
ofiki100

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! please don't let EA buy popcap, so that they won't have the same horrible fate as bioware!

otanikun
otanikun

PopCap is worth $1 Billion?

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

If EA is the buyer I'd expected the see the sales go "Pop" and finally be "Capped" under EA's management

venasque
venasque

Few companies would have the cash to make that sort of purchase. Apple could, but it depends on whether they would want to, and I can't think why.

akdiuuuryttt
akdiuuuryttt

little small games like this and farmvil always making the cash :S

prostar343
prostar343

Seems overpriced, but that seems to be the trend with technology companies these days. Another tech bubble perhaps?

okassar
okassar

I think PopCap would be a good purchase for Zynga to make. They're both into tacky-ish games.

inaka_rob
inaka_rob

I wander if this has to do with ALL pop cap games on sale on xbox live right now? or just coincidence

DerKill
DerKill

That's bad to hear. Developers rarely turn out the same high level of work after they are purchased.

Jaga_Telesin
Jaga_Telesin

EA is the kiss of death. If they are the most appealing buyer, skip the sale altogether.

inaka_rob
inaka_rob

pop has some fun games. I hate to say it. I bought Plants vs zombies twice. iphone and xbox. peggle was pretty addictive too amoung other. I hate to admit it, but they make some of the most addictive games I have ever played.

damo320
damo320

PopCap are awesome!!!

Jshaw71
Jshaw71

my thoughts are with EA being the buyer, one B? that's money only EA has access to imo... I hope i am wrong though, but i doubt it very seriously so...