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EA buys Bejeweled maker PopCap for $750 million

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Plants vs. Zombies - PopCap Games

Plants vs. Zombies vs...Madden?

Here's hoping we get such a hybrid now that mega-publisher Electronic Arts has announced that they've acquired casual game giant PopCap Games for a cool $750 million -- $650 million in cash and an additional $100 million in EA stock.

The deal is sure to send shockwaves across the video game landscape. PopCap is the undisputed king of the casual games world, boasting smash franchises like Bejeweled, Peggle, Zuma and Plants vs. Zombies. The company's got a toe in nearly every corner of the games market, with over 150 million games installed across PCs, consoles, Facebook accounts, and mobile devices. Combine that with EA's reach and massive game library -- not to mention their newly announced 'Origin' games download service -- and you get a 500-pound gorilla in the lucrative digital distribution space.

"EA and PopCap are a compelling combination," said EA CEO John Riccitiello. "PopCap's great studio talent and powerful IP add to EA's momentum and accelerate our drive towards a $1 billion digital business. EA's global studio and publishing network will help PopCap rapidly expand their business to more digital devices, more countries, and more channels."

He's not just whistling Dixie. EA plans to expand leading PopCap properties to more platforms and markets, though it's hard to imagine there are many platforms left that don't already enjoy one version or another of Bejeweled.

"We picked EA because they have recast their culture around making great digital games," echoed David Roberts, CEO of PopCap. "By working with EA, we'll scale our games and services to deliver more social, mobile, casual fun to an even bigger, global audience."

The acquisition further cements EA's plan to dive deeper into digital distribution. While triple-A franchises like Madden, Battlefield and Dead Space enjoy the lion's share of consumer and media attention, the company has spent the past few years making huge investments in the digital games space by acquiring the likes of social game maker Playfish and iOS heavyweight Chillingo.

PopCap has stated that roughly 80 percent of its revenue can be attributed to social game sites, PC downloads and mobile devices.

The deal is set to close in August of 2011.

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