Electronic Arts has bought casual games specialist PopCap in a $1.3 billion deal, as the software giant eyes a larger slice of the booming smartphone and social network-based games sector.
The part-cash, part-shares acquisition of the company behind iPhone and Android tower defence title phenom Plants vs Zombies and evergreen puzzler Bejewelled is intended to equip EA to better compete with rival Zynga.
It comes as Zynga, which dominates Facebook gaming thanks to the likes of Farmville, is about to launch an initial public offering for shares that will provide a huge cash injection for development.
PopCap CEO David Roberts said: "We picked EA because they have recast their culture around making great digital games.
“By working with EA, we'll scale our games and services to deliver more social, mobile, casual fun to an even bigger, global audience."
The smarthphone games market has soared in value in recent years, amid the rise of simple, pick up and play titles such as bona-fide cultural phenomenon Angry Birds.
A study conducted on behalf of PopCap found that among mobile phone gamers, handsets are now the gaming devices of choice – surpassing consoles and PCs.