Bejeweled maker PopCap bets on Facebook casino-game gold rush

Ever since the Justice Department opened the door to the legalization of online gambling, the leading creators of social games are feeling increasingly lucky. PopCap Games just launched Lucky Gem Casino with a collection of seven slot machines themed after its brands such as Bejeweled and Zuma. It marks the entry of the Electronic Arts subsidiary into the increasingly active casino game market.

Instagram is Apple’s No. 1 app of 2011 in a year heavy on fun and sharing

If you made plans for your weekend, you might want to kiss them goodbye.  Apple yesterday released its iTunes Rewind 2011 list, with the 40 top  iPhone and iPad apps of the year. The iTunes store now has more than 500,000 apps in it, but  this year’s top apps list shows that fun is the dominant theme. Games and social networking tools dominated, and photo sharing tool Instagram was chosen as the No. 1  app of the year.

Electronic Arts buys PopCap for $750M

Supergiant video game publisher Electronic Arts has acquired casual game maker PopCap for $650 million in cash and $100 million in stock. The deal includes a multi-year earn out bonus, but there were no details released about it.

Will zombie and jewel games take PopCap to an IPO?

PopCap Games has been a consistent winner when it comes to making great games for casual audiences, or those who don’t consider themselves to be hardcore gamers. From Bejeweled to Plants vs Zombies, PopCap’s games are light-hearted and cartoonish, but they can be just as addictive as hardcore console titles. The difference is that they are lightweight snacks.