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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.
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+