PopCap Acquires Baking Life Dev ZipZapPlay, Sunsets Happy Habitat Ahead Of New Release

By AJ Glasser Comment

Casual games giant PopCap Games announced the acquisition of social game developer ZipZapPlay today for an undisclosed amount. As part of the deal, Happy Habitat will be going offline in the next couple of weeks as ZipZapPlay focuses on an unannounced project. The future of Baking Life is still being decided.

ZipZapPlay is a comparatively small developer with just 17 employees including including co-founder/CEO Curt Bererton and co-founder/COO Mathilde Pignol, who will both remain at the studio to oversee game development. The company originally launched with $1.1 million in venture capital funding around a game creation platform called PlayCrafter and then struggled to transition to the social games space before successfully saving itself with Baking Life. ZipZapPlay currently enjoys 2.3 million monthly active users and 445,000 daily active users between Baking Life and Happy Aquarium, with Baking Life being the clear leader in traffic.

Speaking to ISG, PopCap Games co-founder and VP of Corporate Strategy and Development John Vechey explains that ZipZapPlay will remain an independent developer under PopCap with the freedom to focus on projects at their own pace. Like all PopCap games, Vechey says that ZipZapPlay’s newest project will come out whenever the developer feels it’s ready. Through PopCap, Vechey hopes that ZipZapPlay will be free to explore experimental game ideas while still leveraging its knowledge of the social games market.

“We thought [ZipZapPlay] was a company that can take risks and try something new, but still make a game that supports the studio’s growth,” Vechey says, referring to Happy Habitat’s experimental nature versus Baking Life’s mass appeal restaurant sim gameplay. “We liked that they were experimental but still had that commercial sense.”

Vechey wasn’t able to tell us much about the new ZipZapPlay project, but he feels that it will resemble a type of Facebook game we’re already used to. The studio’s next project, however, will probably be much more innovative, he says.

“The cultural fit is of absolute importance,” Vechey said, relating a story where he went to PopCap’s board of directors to pitch the acquisition and used as his first slide a picture of a 15-foot dragon couch (above) that the ZipZapPlay employees had all worked together to sew.

According to our traffic tracking service, AppData, PopCap Games currently has 16.3 million MAU and 4.3 million DAU between Bejeweled Blitz and Zuma Blitz. In a recent interview with ISG, Vechey and PopCap chief executive David Roberts told us that the games were monetizing well and we could expect more core PopCap titles on Facebook eventually.