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Zynga Originally Wanted to Buy PopCap, Settles for Mark Turmell Instead

As news of Zynga's rebuffed offer surfaces, one EA employee opts to jump ship for the social gaming giant.

As you may have heard last week, EA spent a metric tonne of money in its acquisition of social gaming gurus PopCap Games. Specifically, the publisher ponied up a whopping $750 million (that could be worth as much as $1.3 billion, based on performance incentives). While that sounds like a lot of up-front cash, evidently, PopCap could have had even more, but turned it down.

NBA Jam creator and new Zynga employee, Mark Turmell.

Based on what Forbes is reporting today, PopCap had another offer on the table from rival social games behemoth Zynga, makers of all that "___Ville" and "____ With Friends" stuff you're deeply ashamed to admit you occasionally partake of, the way a junkie only "occasionally" uses heroin. According to the Forbes story, Zynga had an up-front offer of $1 billion dollars on the table, but PopCap ultimately decided to go with the EA deal, which has more lucrative potential based on those incentives.

While Zynga was ultimately Reeeeeeeejected! by PopCap, the publisher managed to Jam It In! with another EA-related deal, as the company Intercepted! former Midway creative head and EA Sports executive Mark Turmell away from the company, presumably for far less than a billion dollars. Boomshakalaka?

Turmell helped create the NBA Jam franchise for Midway back in 1993, and once again helped revive the series at EA when the publisher bought the rights to the franchise from his suddenly defunct former employer. Turmell had been rumored to be working on a revival of NFL Blitz at the EA Tiburon studio, but evidently isn't anymore, if he ever was. EA confirmed last night to Kotaku that Turmell had left the company. Neither Zynga nor Turmell have yet commented on Turmell's new position at the company. One can surmise that an announcement of "Jamming with Friends" and/or "FootballVille" cannot be terribly far off, however.

Alex Navarro on Google+
34 Comments
Posted by Alex

As you may have heard last week, EA spent a metric tonne of money in its acquisition of social gaming gurus PopCap Games. Specifically, the publisher ponied up a whopping $750 million (that could be worth as much as $1.3 billion, based on performance incentives). While that sounds like a lot of up-front cash, evidently, PopCap could have had even more, but turned it down.

NBA Jam creator and new Zynga employee, Mark Turmell.

Based on what Forbes is reporting today, PopCap had another offer on the table from rival social games behemoth Zynga, makers of all that "___Ville" and "____ With Friends" stuff you're deeply ashamed to admit you occasionally partake of, the way a junkie only "occasionally" uses heroin. According to the Forbes story, Zynga had an up-front offer of $1 billion dollars on the table, but PopCap ultimately decided to go with the EA deal, which has more lucrative potential based on those incentives.

While Zynga was ultimately Reeeeeeeejected! by PopCap, the publisher managed to Jam It In! with another EA-related deal, as the company Intercepted! former Midway creative head and EA Sports executive Mark Turmell away from the company, presumably for far less than a billion dollars. Boomshakalaka?

Turmell helped create the NBA Jam franchise for Midway back in 1993, and once again helped revive the series at EA when the publisher bought the rights to the franchise from his suddenly defunct former employer. Turmell had been rumored to be working on a revival of NFL Blitz at the EA Tiburon studio, but evidently isn't anymore, if he ever was. EA confirmed last night to Kotaku that Turmell had left the company. Neither Zynga nor Turmell have yet commented on Turmell's new position at the company. One can surmise that an announcement of "Jamming with Friends" and/or "FootballVille" cannot be terribly far off, however.

Staff Online
Edited by Loose

I guess Zynga had to take a different step in its plan for world domination.

Posted by Delusibeta

Good call on PopCap's front. Zynga would have ruined the company ten times as fast as EA will.

Posted by geirr

Entertaining read if nothing else!

Posted by Mentalnova

What is "____ With Friends"? Seriously.

Edited by Noitu
@Mentalnova said:

What is "____ With Friends"? Seriously.

Words With Friends. It's actually a brand "With Friends".
Posted by Animasta

you know what, I feel a lot better about that EA deal now

Posted by iAmJohn

@Laketown said:

you know what, I feel a lot better about that EA deal now

Yeah...

Posted by BaconGames

I would play Pippenville the second it came out.

Posted by MeatSim

They where getting a lot of money either way.

Posted by RE_Player1

Oh Alex your articles never cease to inform and entertain me.

Posted by buzz_killington

Thanks fucking god PopCap didn't go with Zynga. That would've resulted in an absolute monopoly in casual games biz.

Posted by Winsord

Bejeweled with Friends! Besides, we all know that Facebook will die now with the uprising of Google+. ;)

Posted by MikkaQ

You know I give EA a lot of shit, but I'd much rather be owned by them than by Zynga.

Posted by AssInAss

I'd hate to work in a company whose motto is

"I don't fucking want innovation...You're not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers."

Posted by Zaxex

Thank you EA. At least they'll make actual "games" under EA. I heard the last I care to about Zynga about 4 years ago.

Posted by JakeLogan

Fuck Zynga
Posted by MaFoLu

This could either be good news, Zynga wants to make more creative/better games.

Or bad news, Mark Turmell will have to make JamVille (it's like FarmVille but basketball, and has a commentator that says Boomshakalaka! everytime you post about what you did in the game on Facebook) against his will while dollar bills are being burned beneath him in order to make him work faster.

Posted by CL60

Zynga needs to go away. They are awful.

Posted by bayushi

Zynga's on FIRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

Posted by 234r2we232
@buzz_killington said:
Thanks fucking god PopCap didn't go with Zynga. That would've resulted in an absolute monopoly in casual games biz.
As opposed to EA who are not a monopoly of everything annual...
Posted by buzz_killington
@sofacitysweetheart said:
@buzz_killington said:
Thanks fucking god PopCap didn't go with Zynga. That would've resulted in an absolute monopoly in casual games biz.
As opposed to EA who are not a monopoly of everything annual...
Well competition is always good. This means Zynga can't do whatever the fuck it wants in social space. And EA isn't even the biggest publisher on the consoles; it has pretty stiff competition from Activision and Ubisoft in particular, meaning that again, none of the big players can get away with doing whatever the fuck they want because their competitors will grill them.
Posted by valrog

Hope in humanity. Lost.

Posted by Tim_the_Corsair

Phenomenal article, I laughed like a crazy person and my boss thought I was crying, true story.

LOOKS LIKE HE HIT THE TREE, JIM! Wait, what?

Posted by Xpgamer7

Good news and bad news. It's gonna be interesting to see the road going forward.

Posted by afrofools

Fuck Zynga.

Such a pleasure to know that PopCap turned them down.

Posted by KoolAid

Number of fuck Zynga's in this comment section so far : 2

Comments that generally amount to fuck Zynga: 3

Total: 5

I've designed a new game!

Posted by Kyle

If the other option was Zynga, thank god EA bought Pop Cap.

Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam

Don't you put that shit on me, Navarro. I have not and will never partake of a Zynga product. At least until they consume every other business on the planet.

Posted by SeriouslyNow

@sofacitysweetheart said:

@buzz_killington said:
Thanks fucking god PopCap didn't go with Zynga. That would've resulted in an absolute monopoly in casual games biz.
As opposed to EA who are not a monopoly of everything annual...

You mean as opposed to real life, where whole industries make their money by selling essentially the same things seasonally and annually? I swear the people who attack EA for selling a new sportsgame to a specific fanbase every 12 months need to get out more and experience how similar that is to the rest of the world in entirely different markets and product lines, let alone in similar ones like say SPORTS.

Posted by PXAbstraction
@AssInAss said:
I'd hate to work in a company whose motto is

"I don't fucking want innovation...You're not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers."

 
A motto that could easily apply to PopCap, given that many of their early successes (i.e. Zuma and AstroPop) were ideas they blatantly stole from others and claimed as their own and most of their recent titles are just stripped down rehashes of ideas that have been done elsewhere. Not that PopCap games aren't good, they definitely are. But originality is not really their strong suit either.
Posted by 234r2we232
@SeriouslyNow said:

@sofacitysweetheart said:

@buzz_killington said:
Thanks fucking god PopCap didn't go with Zynga. That would've resulted in an absolute monopoly in casual games biz.
As opposed to EA who are not a monopoly of everything annual...

You mean as opposed to real life, where whole industries make their money by selling essentially the same things seasonally and annually? I swear the people who attack EA for selling a new sportsgame to a specific fanbase every 12 months need to get out more and experience how similar that is to the rest of the world in entirely different markets and product lines, let alone in similar ones like say SPORTS.

Nice try, but no. For one, sports don't change, teams do. Releasing a game instead of an update? If this were a Call of Duty game, people would rage about it. Secondly, it was a reference mostly to their strategy with developers and how it seems they'll have them working on something for a franchise every year regardless of quality. But there's a lot more wrong with EA than a cast of burned out developers. 
 
Maybe you should get out more bro lolol. 
Posted by Dalai

So this means Jeff Green is worth more than Mark Turmell?

Posted by SeriouslyNow

@sofacitysweetheart said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

@sofacitysweetheart said:

@buzz_killington said:
Thanks fucking god PopCap didn't go with Zynga. That would've resulted in an absolute monopoly in casual games biz.
As opposed to EA who are not a monopoly of everything annual...

You mean as opposed to real life, where whole industries make their money by selling essentially the same things seasonally and annually? I swear the people who attack EA for selling a new sportsgame to a specific fanbase every 12 months need to get out more and experience how similar that is to the rest of the world in entirely different markets and product lines, let alone in similar ones like say SPORTS.

Nice try, but no. For one, sports don't change, teams do. Releasing a game instead of an update? If this were a Call of Duty game, people would rage about it. Secondly, it was a reference mostly to their strategy with developers and how it seems they'll have them working on something for a franchise every year regardless of quality. But there's a lot more wrong with EA than a cast of burned out developers. Maybe you should get out more bro lolol.

So, you're saying that this season's new scarf, shewz or Christmas Concert for Charity ticket should be sold as an update? That makes as much sense as your usage of the world monopoly.

EA just did it first because they were the first to grow so quickly and so visibly, every company does it and people are raging about Call of Duty games being a yearly exercise. Are you actually aware of what's going on around you? Previously it was just EA, now it's EA and Activision and there's even discussion about how Zynga could've ruined PopCap in much the same manner as you're whining about.