As EA continues to dip its corporate toes into the pool of mobile gaming, it now seeks to expand its reach with the purchase of a well-known rival. PopCap games, perhaps best known for the popular games Plants vs. Zombies and the Bejeweled series, was purchased for $750 million in cash and stocks ($650 and $100 million, respectively) - Jesus God. Mine is a wage that could be charitably described as "modest," - retail pays mainly in IOUs and sadness - but still, after consulting my electric abacus, I have discovered that it would take me roughly 50,000 years to come up with that kind of money - not adjusting for inflation. Granted, by that time we will have either annihilated ourselves or cast off the need for material want, preferring instead to traverse the infinite multiverse in omni-dimensional Cosmospheres powered by dark matter and the resilience of the human spirit, but it's a staggering statistic nonetheless.
While the price tag may seem obscenely high, EA CEO John Riccitiello believes that the acquisition of PopCap will help EA to gain a stronger foothold in the lucrative mobile gaming market, saying that "PopCap has proven they have the right people and creative culture to sustain this success," according to PC Magazine. Riccitiello also sent an email to EA employees, stating:
There is no denying that what we announced today was a business transaction - a full and fair price for a company that has demonstrated they can sustain success and transform to meet and set the pace for high-growth gaming platforms. [...] You will see EA is making a strong and smart deal in acquiring PopCap. And... beyond the business rationale, and the strategic rationale, I believe PopCap and EA share very, very similar cultural values. Above all, we both put the quality of our games first.
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On paper, it certainly seems like a solid investment. Despite the sticker shock, PopCap brought in $100 million in revenue for 2010, 80% of which came from mobile sales. The once-niche market has gone quite mainstream in recent years, with smartphones becoming ever more affordable and the rise of tablet computing, both of which seems to have some growth potential ahead of them - never mind the fact that everyone and their alcoholic aunt has had at least one go at Bejeweled. The convergence of these factors no doubt makes this a good time to sell, though my meager, plebeian mind can't quite wrap my head around a $750 million cash sum in exchange for in upwards of $100 million per year - one of our more business-savvy readers, perhaps one who doesn't list his current occupation as "Wage Slave" on his resume (thumbs pointed inward in a frat boy-esque "this guy!" pose) can no doubt give Uncle Swede a schooling in the finer points of the market. Nonetheless, EA hopes that the acquisition will streamline productivity. According to VG247, EA's resources will take the burden of localization off the ex-PopCap staff, fostering an environment in which "creators can create," rather than attending to less productive tasks.
What do you think, gamers? Is this the Invisible Hand of the market guiding all mankind to prosperity, the scourge of capitalism spreading to the far corners of the earth, devouring all in its wake, or something in between? Sound off in the comments section below!