“Another studio consumed and ruined by EA,” a TouchArcade reader said when the rumors were confirmed: EA has acquired PopCap Games in a deal that could reach upwards of a billion dollars. “Saddest news all day,” another reader said. “I do not look forward to seeing Peggle 5: Black Ops.”

These are extreme thoughts, but they speak to a basic concern: somehow, someway, the big publisher will find a way to screw up the inner-workings of the Seattle-based developer and smother its creative flame.

During an investor’s conference call the other afternoon, EA CEO John Riccitiello spoke to this, essentially stating that EA will be taking a “if it’s not broke” stance, but will help the developer meet certain production goals faster due to its larger pool of resources and greater bandwidth.

"It's already a rapidly expanding, margin-expanding business before we got there," Riccitiello said during the call, according to Shacknews. "So on one level, don't break it."

"Some of their most important designers and creators and producers are stuck to perpetually working on language localization, individual handset adaptations, individual carrier adaptations. It's a lot of work... It's very unproductive work for great designers,” he said, adding that the publisher has the facilities to aid PopCap and get these designers off these tasks and onto more creative projects again.

"... sometimes there are a number of big revenue opportunities inside of PopCap, but they don't realize anywhere near as quickly as they could because they're servicing existing needs to push code for the next 25 handsets for Android. EA taking that up to low-cost locations frees them to realize against that opportunity.”

As if it wasn’t clear by previous activity, EA is serious about the digital space. In fact, it hopes to become a $1 billion dollar digital business. Chewing up, torturing, and then spitting out the studios that its acquiring to reach this goal isn’t a solid strategic move. That kinda runs contrary to its desires.

For what it’s worth, EA hasn’t mucked up Chillingo, Pogo, or Firemint. These companies are still churning out or scooping up the same caliber of games they were beforehand, but now with the oomph of a massive publisher behind them.

It'll be interesting to see moving forward if EA keeps good on these reassurances regarding PopCap Games. Based on EA's track record I have a feeling that, in the short-to-mid-term, not much is going to change creatively for the studio. We'll see.

[Via Shacknews]

  • Pixelgit

    EA also hasn't fucked up BioWare and done nothing but help a long TOR. Gone are the days when EA bought someone out and made it come crashing down.

    They seem much more shrewd than they used to. This aquisition will do great for PopCap and I hope both benefit greatly.

    • HisDivineOrder

      Ah, but Bioware wasn't just Bioware when EA purchased them.  They were Bioware-Pandemic.  Perhaps you ought to look and see what happened to Pandemic.

      Or after EA purchased Criterion and released Burnout: Paradise City, then what happened to them after EA decided to make NfS an annual franchise?
      Hell, look at the evolution of Dragon Age: Origins into Dragon Age 2.  Do you think Bioware's obsessive consolization focus, their dumbing down of their RPG's, is completely unrelated to their having been purchased by EA?  Look at their games before and now look at their games after.  Sure, the masses loved ME2 the shooter, but DA2 took that even further.  Can't wait for ME3 based on that trend!

      You can make the case that EA is better at providing experimental and/or indie developers (through EA partners) than its main competitor, Activision-Blizzard, but I think if you look close enough you'll still find a trail of bodies behind EA.  Bodies that include game franchises, developers, and the like.

      • Anonymous

        Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!  THE BODIES!!!

      • Fulliautomatox

        >trail of bodies

  • TheJBW

    This does little to reassure me. I think that EA *believes* what they say, but I expect that a couple of years from now, we'll see a PopCap that is less willing to take risks on new IP. If they do have a major "miss" down the road, I fear that they will face extinction as a separate studio.

    And what of 4th & Battery?

  • Dmarcoot

    "production goals" means it will become a game sweat shop. The concerns are well founded. They will be asked to produce more titles, which will be expected to be hits. This turn does leave little room or willingness to take risks on innovative designs. Look at the movie industry for how much creativity comes out of it with a summer of sequels  and remakes every year. As for your what its worth comment "Chillingo, Pogo, or Firemint" they bought FIremint in May, Chlllingo in October of last year. At the  time of these purchases, the games they published were probably already under development. Bungie is a great example, they said all the same things EA said when bought them. They got so productive for MS churning out Halo 24/365 days year they got burned out. EA's desire are to acquire the intellectual property of these companies and turning them into sweat shops. That's how you get to a billion in revenue. More production never equates to higher quality. Your naivety shows.

  • Anonymous

    I'll believe it when i see it... Which i doubt i will.

  • Anonymous

    Good luck Popcap Games! In a few years your studio will be chewed up and spit out.

    Never forget!

    Bullfrog
    Origin Systems
    Looking Glass
    Maxis
    etc..

    • Peter Obendorfer

      Oh boy, i shed nerd tears when i think back of those awesome studios.
      So sad to see that EA enslaved half of the videogames industry with the money out of those shitty sports game franchises.

    • Vimy

      maybe, but the owner will be able to open 100 new studios with the money he made.

      ... which again makes me wonder why the F#$, would EA spend so much money for this studio.

      Hey EA exec's, I got this bridge, in Brooklyn, 
      You guys should take a look, 
      its for sale, cheap

  • Andrew

    PopCap has got greedy of late. You used to be able to buy coins in-game in Bejeweled at a cost of £5 for 1,000,000 coins.  With the most recent update the cost has changed to £5 for 270,000.  Fair enough, you don't have to buy them, but that's definitely inflation-busting...

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, Popcap games might still be fun, and maybe the EA infrastructure will free them to do more, but there are plenty of perfectly valid concerns:

    As mentioned by TheJBW above, how long will 4th & Battery be allowed to operate unrestricted?

    EA is actively hostile towards many of the platforms it occupies (see: operating its own servers/services parallel to Xbox Live, pulling games out of Steam, never supporting Universal apps, Game Center, and probably iCloud), so I'm guessing we can abandon any hope for continuing updates to current and future PopCap games. (Peggle Nights update for free? Ha!) Same with platform-friendly feature support.

    Will EA's quick-and-dirty localization teams take anywhere near the care PopCap has when bringing titles to new platforms? Sure PopCap took forever, but they significantly reworked the Peggle interface specifically for the iPhone, and it made a world of difference.

    So overall I don't think it's at all unreasonable to mourn this announcement, especially, as others mention, EA's past actions in this exact situation. But we shall see.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah yeah, we've heard this before...over and over!

  • Dug From The Earth

    Broken Publisher is Broken

  • Okok

    For what it's worth, Chillingo was already mucked up wat before EA entered the scene.

  • Donalddumptruck

    Chillingo was bad before EA, but now it's like some horrible cosmic joke. I can't believe how awful they are at what they "do".

  • Briker Ed

    The fact that they had to speak publicly about this just proves what we already knew.

    I'd lol, but it's not funny anymore.... not for a long time.

  • Vimy

    i think EA needs to learn about the fine art of corporate raiding.
    they seem to be paying top dollar to get name brands that, good sas they are, dont seem worth it. Especially if the creators can just go get jobs elsewhere.

  • Lolwut

    Thank god i dont buy popcap games

    one thing i learned from buying EA games for iOS, they NEVER update their library of games....EVER
    luckily I mostly buy them when it's on discount...so meh

  • http://www.galleytech.com Galley

    All I want is Bejeweled 3 and Peggle on my iPad. Is that too much to ask?

    • Briker Ed

      We might get them, but if we do, they'll probably have prompts to rate, comment, join facebook page and/or open an account on EA's site, get directions to apply 'here and here' and check 'this and that' to get promo codes for 'amazing new jewel designs and colours' and be offered to buy some of those as well ingame with real $$$. We'll be getting a new version of the cash-cow every six months with minor differences advertised as revolutionary and once the playerbase is saturated with the game and its half-done sequels they'll forget about it and buy another game developing/publishing studio, yay! >_> 

      I apologise for this rage, but it's hard to not feel bitter considering EA's history of buying out game companies and how they treat them once they are assimilated :U

  • Bluecomb84

    You guys are a bunch of babies. It's a video game company that was bought...hardly seems significant. I'm sure if the the guys working for PopCap feel bogged down at EA they will move on and start another company. That's just the way it is.

  • Shrugemoff

    Want proof that EA has f***ked up Firemint. There are in-app purchases in the latest update to Real Racing 2. What the hell!