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Console gaming giant goes into handjobs

Electronic Arts buys Bejeweled maker PopCap

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Game giant Electronic Arts is spending over a billion dollars on phone and iPad gaming company PopCap – the maker of Bejeweled and Plants vs Zombies.

EA is handing over $650m in cash plus $100m in EA shares to some PopCap shareholders.

Additionally PopCap can earn another $550m if it hits sales targets for the next two years. EA is also promising $50m in shares to keep current staff employed at the firm.

The takeover should close in August 2011 as long as the usual conditions are met and regulators are happy. EA expects no impact on earnings per share for 2012 and a fillip of 10 cents per share in 2013.

PopCap specialises in what it calls "casual gaming" – the move away from complex, all-consuming console games to short-playing games played on a phone or other handheld device. Or as they put it: "Our games are sprinkled with a whirlwind of smile-inducing awesomeness and polished to a timeless sheen". The company was founded in 2000 and now employs 400 people, has created over 50 games, downloaded 1.5 billion times and claims one billion people have played at least one of their games. More than 65 per cent of its gamers are women.

EA and PopCap's press release is here.

EA also upgraded its guidance for the financial year 2012. It now expects revenues of between $3,800m and $4,025m giving earnings per share between 70 cents and 90 cents. ®

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