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

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.

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6 Responses to “PopCap Acquires Baking Life Dev ZipZapPlay, Sunsets Happy Habitat Ahead Of New Release”

  1. New Hires in Social Gaming: Digital Chocolate, GSN, Happy Elements, & More says:

    [...] Joining PopCap Games, Lee was previously an artist and visual designer for ZipZapPlay, which was acquired by PopCap back in [...]

  2. When to Sunset and When to Stay With Social Games on Facebook says:

    [...] was the case for several games developed by ZipZapPlay prior to its PopCap acquisition. Curt Bererton, former CEO of ZipZapPlay and now General Manager under PopCap, walked an audience [...]

  3. susie says:

    They’re closing Baking Life despite severe protests, nearly 800 signatures (and counting!) on a petition to keep it open, and several statements that we’d rather have it with no support than not have it at all.

    I will never play another PopCap game ever again unless they change their mind. This makes no sense whatsoever! 2.3 Million MAU don’t matter to them?

    Strange that ZipZapPlay, with only 17 employees, managed WONDERFUL customer service. They read every single post users made to the forums and actually listened to us. I wish they hadn’t been bought out.

  4. Inside Social Games · EA PopCap sunsetting Baking Life after 22 months says:

    [...] for the game has been in slow decline ever since. When PopCap acquired ZipZapPlay last April, the future of the game was still being decided, even though it had more than 2.2 million MAU at the time. It’s unknown at this point if EA’s [...]

  5. Joellen Megan says:

    Please reconsider keeping baking life on line! It is such a sweet game, nothing compares to it’s magic and reality!
    Thank You,
    Sincerely, Joellen Megan

  6. Lynne Siegel says:

    It’s Electronic Arts that makes the decision for Pop-cap not pop-cap or zipzap play any more. EA bought the company JUST so ZYNGA couldn’t have it. They couldn’t see Zynga having anything successful they would rather destroy a game than let Zynga have it, that’s how ridiculous EA is, to their customers. You should read about the complaints they get about club pogo, then you would understand why they really could care less about their customer base. One day, no one will be there to play any of their games, and the Karma will come around and bite them in the rear end.

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