Publishing giant 'to spend over $1 billion'

EA to buy PopCap, sources claim

Electronic Arts is in the closing stages of acquiring casual games group PopCap, reports suggest.

Earlier, the Peggle developer was at the centre of a fast-spreading rumour that it was in the final stages of buyout discussions.

The Washington-based studio’s price, according to a TechCrunch report, is more than $1 billion.

Now the tech site is claiming that Electronic Arts is the company looking to spend the huge sum.

“Following up on our story earlier this evening that PopCap Games is in late stage acquisition discussions for a sum of over $1 billion — we’ve now heard from two sources that the buyer is Electronic Arts,” the TechCrunch report read.

The acquisition, if true, would represent the biggest spend yet in the social games space. It would be the clearest indication yet that publishing giants see social gaming as a critical factor in the future of the industry.

Electronic Arts is pushing fast into the casual, social and mobile games businesses. In 2009 the publisher bought social studio Playfish in a deal worth $400 million, and one year later acquired mobile publisher Chillingo for about $17 million.

Calls to EA were not answered. PopCap has declined to comment on the rumour.

TechCrunch initially named Zynga, EA and DeNA as "the most likely suitors" of the PopCap buyout.

Earlier in the year, PopCap was thought to be considerng going public, though no such move had materialised.

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