How PopCap "Acquired" EA

At GDC online this morning, PopCap co-founder John Vechey gave a keynote in which he discussed PopCap evolution from a PC game company into a social game company, and how embracing change has allowed them to grow and thrive in a shifting industry. The largest change, he said, came from PopCap's acquisition by EA earlier this year.

"[The deal] was a really crazy process to go through," Vechey said. "I'm amazed that I'm alive, sometimes. For us, it wasn't about the transaction—it's about our legacy. I never once cared how much money we were making, what I cared about was how do we really make sure that this company is around, that it's still an exciting place to work in ten, fifteen years.

"A lot of it came down to: 'How is the world changing?' Everything we think we know about social is going to go away. A lot of social games still look like a lot of social games. A lot of mobile games look like a lot of genres."

Vechey pointed out that most console games had so many more genres, and that social games had so much room to grow.

These days, several million people play PopCap games each day. Vechey said that pre-acquisition, the company had already started to think much, much bigger. "The destination is 100, 200 million people playing our games each day. That's a scale that PopCap can barely comprehend. We're going to have to do marketing in a whole new way. I pray that we'll never have to do a Superbowl ad."

The key then, he said, was partnering with a publisher who could provide the reach, who thought big enough with marketing to make those numbers happen. EA fit the bill. EA fit with PopCap's strategy, which Vechey summed up humorously: "Instead of EA acquiring a small company," he said, "we acquired a really big company."


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