Thursday, June 23, 2011
Gavin O'Malley, June 23, 2011, 11:26 AM
PopCap Games Courted For $1 BillionTechCrunch

What's a casual online game worth? How about $1 billion? Actually, PopCap Games -- the company behind "casual" hits like Plants vs Zombies and Bejeweled -- is reportedly be courted for over $1 billion.

"We've heard from multiple sources that the buyer is Electronic Arts," reports TechCrunch. Prior to that revelation, TechCrunch suggested the suitor might be Zynga, which, it noted, "has made a string of game-related acquisitions over the last year." "If true, that would sidetrack [PopCap's] plans for an initial public offering later this year," writes The Seattle Times.

TechCrunch suggests EA is trying to get out of the "hardcore" gaming and appeal to casual and/or mobile users. "PopCap could definitely help with such a goal," PCWorld points out. "PopCap also produces a number of free PC games, including Insaniquarium, Zuma, and Bookworm Adventures."

EA or not, "Whoever ends up with the prize would get a developer that reportedly rakes in about $100 million - $150 million per year," Computerworld writes, adding, "PopCap is also one of the few developers to truly master the divide between iOS and other platforms." Indeed, "It's a phenomenally successful company," The Seattle Times says of PopCap. What's more, while EA's market cap is only $7.49 billion, it wouldn't be the company's first big bet on a hot gaming start-up. At TechCrunch notes, it acquired Playfish in 2009 for up to $400 million after earn-outs.

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  • Gavin O'Malley, June 23, 2011, 11:26 AM
  • UK Web Headed For Harsh Regulation? Someone summon the ghost of George Orwell. A group of UK copyright lobbyists reportedly held confidential, closed-door meetings with Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries to discuss what Boingboing characterizes as "a plan to allow industry groups to censor the Internet in the UK."

    Claiming to possess a copy of the leaked proposal, the popular blog says it reveals a plan to establish "expert bodies" that would decide "which websites British people were allowed to see, to be approved by a judge using a 'streamlined' procedure." What's more, "The procedure will allow for 'swift' blocking in order to shut down streaming of live events."

    Public interest groups like the Open Rights Group reportedly asked to attend the meeting, but were shut out, "presaging a regulatory process that's likely to be a lopsided, industry-centric affair that doesn't consider the public," according to Boingboing. Those with a seat at the table are calling the process "voluntary," but the proposal makes reference to the Digital Economy Act, which allows for mandatory Web-blocking, Boingboing explains. Read the whole story...
  • Winklevoss Twins Abandon Appeal Mark Zuckerberg has one less thing to worry about now that Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have decided not to appeal the Supreme Court ruling upholding their $65 million settlement with Facebook and its young founder. After agreeing to the cash-and-stock accord in 2008, the Olympic rowing twins sought to undo it, saying it was fraudulent because Facebook hid information from them, and that they deserved more money, Reuters reports.

    The Winklevosses had been planning to appeal an April 11 ruling by a federal appeals court in San Francisco upholding the settlement, which that court called "quite favorable." But in a filing on Wednesday with that court, the Winklevosses said that after "careful consideration," they decided not to seek Supreme Court review," according to Reuters, adding, "The filing did not give a reason for the decision."

    For its part, Facebook said in a statement: "We've considered this case closed for a long time, and we're pleased to see the other party now agrees." Meanwhile, this week's filing clears the way for Facebook to seek the dismissal of a related lawsuit filed in Boston federal court, Reuters adds. Read the whole story...
  • Judge: Apple Should Share "Appstore" Name While it may result in a few confused consumers, it looks unlikely that Apple will get exclusive rights to the term "Appstore." After a hearing in Oakland, Calif., U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton said this week that she is "probably" going to deny Apple claim because it hasn't actually demonstrated confusion among consumers, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. Specifically, Apple is trying to stop from using the term "Appstore" for a service selling programs for Android devices.

    Apple is arguing that it will be irreparably harmed because the value of its own App Store will be eroded as consumers confuse the two services. What's more, Apple claims to have spent hundreds of millions advertising the service since it was launched in 2008 and will suffer irreparable damage by associations with Amazon's Appstore service.

    Yet, Apple's difficulty demonstrating "real evidence of actual confusion" among consumers is a "stumbling block for Apple," Judge Hamilton said in court, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Read the whole story...
  • Foursquare Charges Ahead With AmEx Deal On the heels of a similar deal with AOL's Patch, American Express has partnered with Foursquare to offer discounts to cardholders when they "check-in" to certain shops and restaurants. The New York Times is calling the deal Foursquare's "largest partnership to date," and further proof that the location-based social network is holding its own against LBS interlopers like Facebook, Google, and Patch.

    "Thus far, it seems, Foursquare is holding its ground," writes NYT. Indeed, earlier this week it, announced registering over 10 million users, though, as the newspaper noted: "It would not say how many of those are active." Per the AmEx deal, "Foursquare users are accustomed to receiving awards in the form of coupons and digital merit badges.

    "But more substantial deals like those being offered to American Express cardholders may bring Foursquare and other location-based services further into the mainstream." Initial business partners include Sports Authority and H&M, along with a few restaurants in New York, including Union Square Cafe and Blue Smoke. Read the whole story...