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Megaton Shocker: EA buys PopCap for $750 million

Tuesday, 12 July 2011 21:16 GMT By Staff

The biggest mushroom cloud we’ve seen for a long time: EA’s announced that it’s to buy Plants vs Zombies and Peggle creator PopCap for $750 million.

PopCap – A History

Founded in 2000 by John Vechey, Brian Fiete and Jason Kapalka.

First release was Bejeweled, which went on to win 25 industry awards.

Acquired Sprout Games and its Feeding Frenzy license in 2005.

PopCap International opened Dublin offices in 2006; PopCap games released on Steam.

Acquired SpinTop Games and Retro64 in 2007.

Revenue for 2010 came in at $100.

July 12, acquisition by EA Games announced.

An expensive, but lucrative purchase

The acquisition will cost $650 million cash and $100 million in stock.

EA CEO, John Riccitiello said in terms of digital, the firm pulled in $100 million in revenue during in calendar year 2010, 80 percent of which was in digital sales. Riccitiello said he feels PopCap was a great standalone business on its own without EA, so if it works already “don’t break it.”

“EA and PopCap are a compelling combination,” said Riccitiello. “PopCap has shown accelerated growth in both the social and causal markets.

“PopCap’s great studio talent and powerful IP add to EA’s momentum and accelerate our drive towards a $1 billion digital business. EA’s global studio and publishing network will help PopCap rapidly expand their business to more digital devices, more countries, and more channels.”

Riccitiello said since PopCap currently has around 450 personnel, most of the firm’s designers are stuck working on individual format carriers such as Andorid, and doing unproductive work for designers. EA has personnel who can do all the localization work, so “creators can create,” instead of being stuck doing menial work.

“By working with EA, we’ll scale our games and services to deliver more social, mobile, casual fun to an even bigger, global audience,” added PopCap CEO, David Roberts.

PopCap games coming to new platforms and markets

As part of the deal, EA will be bringing Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled and Zuma to “new platforms and markets,” although no details have been given as yet. Riccitiello said the firm has not “put a lot of thought into the Origin end” of the deal, but did say he is pleased with the firm’s ability to make use of bandwidth options, which is something EA has been “trying to figure out,” since it started in the social and causal market.

EA’s reaffirmed its Non-GAAP guidance for Q1 FY12 and full-year FY12 despite the buyout. Also, because PopCap was its own entity, “It will continue to have accelerated margin operation growth before EA factors into its financials.”

During an investor call following the announcement of the deal, EA was asked if it could hand out a product pipeline for PopCap, but it refused, saying it tends to not hand out dates for online games for competitive reasons.

Rumours of the deal has been circulating for weeks, with reports suggesting that a buyout would cost as much as $1 billion.

Shares in EA fell 3.4 percent to $23.35 a share after the announcement. The regular session for today’s shares were down 0.9 percent before the announcement it would purchase PopCap.

The major players speak out

EA has published in full an internal memo to employees discussing the acquisition.

Riccitiello revealed that PopCap had “received a lot of offers” but chose EA in “recognition of [its] culture” of “respect” for “games and the teams that create them”.

“There is no denying that what we announced today was a business transaction,” he said. “The deal is compelling.

“Above all, we both put the quality of our games first.”

“Beyond the business rationale, and the strategic rationale, I believe PopCap and EA share very, very similar cultural values. Above all, we both put the quality of our games first.”

Riccitello urged employees to make contact with and get to know their new colleagues.

“They are an incredibly talented group of people – but you already know that from playing their games,” he said.

“Where some companies are built on a single hit, PopCap has made lightning strike again and again. They have built a powerhouse of evergreen casual properties and proven their ability to create new hits again and again on the fastest growing platforms”.

“I think there will be changes in terms of expanding our reach,” PopCap’s Garth Chouteau told Kotaku of the possibility of PopCap’s transformation.

“We can work with a team at EA to do ports more quickly, more effectively. We have fairly modest development resources and there are ways that EA can bring some of its very substantial resources to bear.”

Chouteau stressed that EA has not imposed any schedule on PopCap, and said that the developer’s lengthy periods between new releases are due to limited porting resources rather than lack of ideas.

“We’re about as slow as it gets. I don’t think that changes materially. We devote a fraction of our overall development resources to new IP. We have more resources devoted to taking existing IP and bringing it to new platforms. I think that’s going to continue as-is.

“It’s all good, he concluded. “If anything, certain aspects of the way we do business just get easier and get bigger.”

PopCap also sent a cute letter of welcome to its new overlord; view in full below.

[Original story by Johnny Cullen, contributions by Stephany Nunneley and Brenna Hillier]

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34 Comments

  1. Stephany Nunneley

    Jesus. I think every single one of us is in the wrong business. :D

    #1 4 years ago
  2. DSB

    I guess it’s the time of year where EA throws money at every social developer under the sun.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Patrick Garratt

    “Fuck me.”

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Dean

    > “The accusation will cost $650 million”

    *acquisition*

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Grimrita

    EA want to be number #1 on every platform and since they cant create their own talent, they have to buy it, then decimate it. They are the Borg of the gaming industry

    #5 4 years ago
  6. AHA-Lambda

    fuc…king…helll!!! =O

    GIGGAA-TTTTOOON!!!!

    srsly, didn’t see this one coming a mile off O_O

    PS: better go buy some popcap games from steam quick before they disappear ;P

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Erthazus

    Jesus Christ. Thats too much.

    Pop Cap should have stayed independent.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. deathgaze

    * Price inflated to adjust for 2011 Internet financial bubble.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Fin

    NOM NOM NOM NOM

    I like EA, so I’m not bothered by this – I am a bit concerned the games might be taken off Steam though, hmmmmm.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Erthazus

    but whats the point if their revenue is only 100$+ million a year?

    I doubt that they can do better then that.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Johnny Cullen

    Properly went :O. That’s a genuine megaton.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. jacobvandy

    How is this a surprise? There was a rumor weeks ago that this was going on, you guys may have even posted about it then. I forget who “debunked” it, saying it wasn’t EA who was buying, but turns out they were wrong.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. Patrick Garratt

    @10 – 7.5x revenue is a decent deal for both sides, I reckon. I assume PopCap’s very profitable, so it seems sensible. It just seems like a massive amount of money for EA at the moment.

    I’m glad I said publicly about 10 times this was all complete horseshit.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. deathgaze

    @10 and 13: The point is that Pop-Cap has a sustainable and profitable business model. Even EA admits that revenue in the game-space can be unpredictable. Buying Pop-Cap helps further round out EA’s financials as well as their market portfolio.

    I would classify this as a “good move”.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Patrick Garratt

    @14 – *nods*

    #15 4 years ago
  16. loki

    Another proof: EA’s direction -idiots

    #16 4 years ago
  17. DSB

    It is really crazy though.

    After the Playfish fiasco, betting half a years revenue on another social project? Granted, they got the best of the best with this one, but I’m surprised that Popcap went for it as well.

    Then again I have no idea how much money 750 million is, and if you’ve built an empire on little games that a handful of guys can put together, then that has to be somewhat satisfying.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. Prof.Dr.Moertel

    geeez, that´s a whole lot of money. If PopCap can keep or even increase their revenue over the next 10 years or so, it´s a great deal. But otherwise it´s a complete disaster for EA. But since I don´t see any sign of decreasing business for those kind of games, it seems to be a fucking amazing deal.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. darksied

    @5
    … EA is a publisher. They don’t have “talent,” like you say. They go “buy” the talent in the form of developers, yes. This, I believe, is what all publishers do. And if you really want to talk about the Borg, I think you’re looking at the wrong company. EA buys and expands into different types of stuff; Activision buys, uses, destroys and moves on.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. darksied

    I can’t even think about that number … if you think about how much you make a year, and think about how long you’re going to work … wow. It’s amazing how much money people can throw around.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. The_Red

    Wow… seriously, wow. I really hope this isn’t the end of fun games like PvZ and Peggle. They may be casual or small but they are really well made. In an age where quality of most the casual games is on par with garbage (xxxxVille), their titles were like water in desert.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. Stephany Nunneley

    Okay. Added a few extra bits from the call in there. Nothing major was announced like dates, games, or whether anyone will get laid off.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. DSB

    @19 You’re not serious are you? Do you have any idea how many people they fired from Playfish? And how do you think Pandemic feel?

    EA has always gone through the motions of massive investments, followed by huge cuts as soon as they realize that they’ve overextended themselves. Last time they fired almost 20% of the company.

    People are just statistics to any business of that size, including the ones who buy their games. Whether they do good or evil is of no consequence, they do whatever they can to make money.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. Erthazus

    New game is announced!!!!

    http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/comment/9/2011/07/93fe85dba8c3e88df0f6647835bacbdc/original.jpg

    first Screenshot.

    #24 4 years ago
  25. Johnny Cullen

    Pegglefield and Plants vs Zombies vs Mass Effect all due in a year. Calling it.

    #25 4 years ago
  26. Erthazus

    @25, Need For Weeds

    #26 4 years ago
  27. Fin

    @25

    I would buy those games.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. NeoSquall

    @19 Well duh, the Borgs capture and assimilate the best features of their preys in the collective, so considering EA the Borgs of the gaming industry isn’t entirely wrong…

    #28 4 years ago
  29. hitnrun

    No more Peggle/WoW crossovers, I guess.

    OTOH, Yoda confirmed as Peggle Master character in Old Republic Peggle.

    #29 4 years ago
  30. TheWulf

    @25

    Pfft. my money’s on Boo™: Miniature Giant Space Hamster – Caretaker.

    #30 4 years ago
  31. NightCrawler1970

    I don’t get it, EA SHUT DOWN 17, what they called aged servers, but wasting $750 Million dollars for buying “pop-cap” JESUS what a waste…

    #31 4 years ago
  32. Maximum Payne

    @31 IF they had added little bit more money they could bought yahoo :)

    #32 4 years ago
  33. MrBambinoDent

    I think this is a nice move on EA’s side and it may help pop-cap seriously expand their business.
    I’m glad about this piece of news : )

    #33 4 years ago
  34. NightCrawler1970

    @32, why need EA Yahoo???? doesn’t make sence…
    @33, Easy for you to say, not your money 750 Million wooooh, where i come from that’s a lot of money….

    #34 4 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Bloodborne has a nasty glitch that will let you duplicate all in-game consumables. The glitch was discovered by Kotaku and makes item duplication pretty simple. Note that doing this will trivialise a major part of the game’s challenge and that it will probably get patched soon. For this glitch to work, you’ll need to create […]

  • Destiny weekly reset for March 31: Heroic and Nightfall strikes detailed

    The weekly reset to Destiny’s merchants, strikes, and reputation caps is here. The strike for this week is The Nexus on the Ishtar Sink on Venus. Void burn will be your ally/enemy for the Nightfall. The Juggler modifier is also available on both Heroic and Nightfall. Inferno Crucible mode also returns with Clash, and it […]

  • Motivational Growth is the first non-documentary film to be released on Steam

    Motivational Growth will soon be Steam’s first foray into selling movies that are not based around video games Steam will release its first, non-documentary film later today in the form of Motivational Growth. The film is a sci-fi comedy distributed by Hotline Miami publisher Devolver Digital, who has itself produced other game-centred documentaries before, and […]

  • Metal Gear Solid movie in the works at Sony Pictures

    A Metal Gear Solid film is in the making at Sony Pictures. Deadline is reporting that Sony Pictures has closed a deal to make a film adaptation of Metal Gear Solid. The film will be written by Jay Basu, with Jordan Vogt-Roberts attached to direct. Michael De Luca is said to be heading production. There […]

  • Destiny: Inferno mode returns this week with Inferno Clash

    Inferno mode returns to Destiny this week. This time it’s Inferno Clash. The Inferno playlist will be back to The Crucible rotation in Destiny this week. Unlike last month’s Control, Clash will be the mode variant this time. The main changes Inferno brings to the game is the removal of the radar (mini-map), scoring is […]

  • Bladestorm: how 28 rogue ninja conquered Brittany

    The Hundred Years War wasn’t ended by the superior forces of the French cavalry: it was ninja. Bladestorm: Nightmare Battlefield sim. Take control of dozens of unit types. You play a mercenary, fighting for both France and England, usually at your own discretion. Unit variations liven things up; Lady Lancers replace Knights. Vikings replace Swords. […]

  • First Bloodborne speedrun is in, game finished in under 45 minutes

    Bloodborne has been out for less than a week in most parts of the world and the first speedrun record has already been achieved. YouTuber Oginam_tv managed to finish Bloodborne in under 50 minutes. Of course not without utilising more than his fair share of exploits, including level-skipping glitches, as well as the item duplication […]

  • Advanced Warfare Infection gameplay shows the new map, monsters, extraction mechanic

    We’ve got some new gameplay footage from Advanced Warfare’s Exo Zombies episode 2 – Infection. Arekkz went to L.A. this past weekend and played the new map that Infection brings to Exo Zombies mode in Advanced Warfare. The map is noticeably larger than that of the first episode, with more branching paths you can unlock. […]

  • Hotline Miami collector’s edition is close, 50% already achieved

    The Hotline Miami crowdfunding effort to produce a special collector’s edition is going strong with 50% of the target achieved. Gamer Network’s collector’s edition initiative has announced that funding for the Hotline Mimi Gamer’s Edition has reached 50% of its goal, with just over nine days to go. The collector’s edition is a one-of-a-kind bundle […]

  • Woah Dave will be an extra free PS+ game on PS4 in April

    Indie platformer Woah Dave will be made free to PlayStation Plus members on PlayStation 4 in April, but it’s not part of the month’s main Plus offering. Woah Dave is a “secret” April PlayStation Plus game, according to Sony. The game is a 2D platformer that received positive feedback when it was released on PS […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: three international tourneys announced, $100,000 prize pool

    Warner Bros. has announced a new series of Mortal Kombat X tournaments with a prize pool starting at $100,000. Mortal Kombat X Worldwide Competitive Program is a series of tournaments that kick off in April and allow players from the around the world participation. The tournaments are the Fatal 8 Exhibition Tournament, Mortal Kombat X […]

  • Project CARS to receive a free car every month, starting with the Lykan Hypersport

    The Lykan Hypersport, the supercar featured in one of Furious 7′s action set-pieces, will be a free download for Project CARS owners. To thank the fans for their patience throughout Project CARS development and several delays, developer Slightly Mad will be giving all owners one in-game car for free each month. The first car will […]

  • Leaked Halo Online gameplay shows weapons, maps, and more

    Gameplay from the upcoming, Russia only, Halo Online has leaked online and it looks like a mix of Halo 3 and Halo Reach. Microsoft announced last week that a free-to-play Halo game is in development at Saber Interactive. The game will be available in Russia only, at least on launch. YouTuber Noble, with the help […]

  • Get PlayStation 4 with the PS Camera and The Last of Us for $399

    US retailer Best Buy is offering a free PlayStation Camera with the purchase of The Last of Us PS4 bundle. If you’re in the US, Best Buy is having a very good deal on PlayStation 4 systems at the moment. If you buy The Last of Us PS4 bundle, you’ll automatically get the PS Camera […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition Jaws of Hakkon DLC comes to PS4 in May

    Dragon Age: Inquisition Jaws of Hakkon DLC has been given a release window for PS3, PS4, and Xbox 360. Jaws of Hakkon, the first story add-on to Dragon Age: Inquisition was released last week on PC and Xbox One. The release was a complete surprise, as there was no prior announcement. What was also surprising […]

  • Watch Rainbow Six Siege developers stream new gameplay right now

    Rainbow Six Siege developers are about to livestream new gameplay footage. Come and watch with us. The livestream below starts at 7pm UK time/6pm GMT. Ubisoft will be showing new gameplay footage and will talk more about the operator system, which was revealed today. The footage will be from the PC alpha build. Expect more […]

  • Advanced Warfare Exo Zombie Infected trailer shows new weapons, massive enemy

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Exo Zombies episode 2, Infected, has been shown off in a new trailer. The official trailer for Exo Zombies Infected is here with footage of the new gear and new enemies. All of which help set up the mess everyone’s making at Burger Town. John Malkovich and co are dropped […]

  • Rainbow Six Siege collector’s edition comes with a 120-page field manual

    Rainbow Six Siege will be getting a collector’s edition and it comes with a 120-page guide. The Rainbow Six Siege collector’s edition has been fully detailed. It’s called the “Art of Siege Edition” and will be available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, priced £65. Here’s what you get: A copy of the game […]

  • Rainbow Six Siege trailer is all about the operators

    Rainbow Six Siege has a new trailer available explaining the operator system. Operators are what makes any Counter Terrorist Unit and you will get to choose each of them individually before assembling a team. Any operator you choose will not be available for others though, so planning ahead will be crucial. The new trailer shows […]

  • Spotify now available on PS3 and PS4, lets you play music in the background

    Spotify has arrived on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The Spotify app is now available in 42 countries on PSN. The app was part of last week’s firmware update and can be found under PlayStation Music. Anyone can download it, as it doesn’t require PlayStation Plus. You can use your PSN account to subscribe to […]

  • Let’s talk Battlefield Hardline weapon balance

    The weapon balance in Battlefield Hardline is causing a controversy among the players. Are some weapons too powerful, or are other not powerful enough? Westie has been playing Battlefield Hardline since it the day it came out and he has some opinions about the state of weapon balance as it stands right now. Westie also […]

  • UK Charts: Bloodborne enters at No. 2, Battlefield Hardline defends No. 1 spot

    Battlefield Hardline has defended the No. 1 spot in the UK Charts against Bloodborne’s impressive numbers. The UK Charts for the week ending March 28 show Battlefield Hardline continuing to hold the top spot despite dropping 43% in sales. Bloodborne achieved the No. 2 spot and came only 22,500 copies short of becoming number 1. […]

  • Halo 5: Guardians release date and new trailers released

    Halo 5 is coming in October. Are you ready? Halo 5: Guardians has been slapped with a release date of October 27. Microsoft and 343 Industries also released a new trailer to mark the news; check it out below. “The Master Chief. Spartan Locke. Who is the hunter and who is the hunted?” Microsoft said […]

  • Denial wins Call of Duty Championship 2015

    In a weekend where favourites crashed out and non-US teams took a beating, Denial stepped up to take the title and $400,000 prize Denial have beaten Revenge to win the Call of Duty Championship 2015, claiming a $400,000 prize. Taking place in downtown Los Angeles, 32 of the best teams in the world battled it […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Ascendance DLC- check out new maps and the grapple ability

    Advanced Warfare’s Ascendance DLC is looking pretty sweet in these two new videos. The Call of Duty Championships this weekend have given our very own Arekkz a chance to check out the new Ascendance DLC coming this month. Take a look at all four new maps as well as the cool new grapple ability (which […]

  • Advanced Warfare’s Exo Zombies gets a “mini boss” with Ascendance DLC

    Zombies mode gets an exo-kick up the ass with Advanced Warfare’s second DLC drop, Ascendance. When Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s Ascendance DLC drops this week, players will be going up against some tougher challenges in Exo Zombies mode. “It’s all zombies, all of the time,” says High Moon Studios Matt Tieger, head of the […]

  • GTA Online user videos show out of character Lester, important Police Business

    You know, Lester isn’t as soft as he lets on, at least in these two GTA Online videos he’s not. The first one below is from YouTube user 10Phoenix01 Gamer, showing Lester kick a guy’s ass. It’s apparently punishment for running over the player – at least that’s the way it appears. A second video […]

  • Guild Wars 2 devs explain how the Map Bonus system, precursor crafting work in Heart of Thorns

    ArenaNet has posted information on the Guild Wars 2 website explaining how crafting mastery, and crafting a legendary weapon, will work in the Heart of Thorns expansion. There’s also information on the new Map Bonuses system, which will make acquiring crafting materials a more “directed activity” and streamlined experience. The new system will also add […]

  • Fly around your creations in Cities: Skylines with the Flight Cimulator mod

    Cities: Skylines players can now fly over their creations thanks to the Flight Cimulator mod. Created by Ulysius and available through the Steam Workshop, the mod allows the user to simulate flight through simple controls. According to the mod notes, it is still a work in progress as Ulysius plans to add building collisions , […]

  • The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul arrive on PlayStation Vue

    Sony has announced the addition of AMC to its PlayStation Vue service, which soft launched in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia earlier this month. Those who use the service can now get their Better Call Saul and The Walking Dead fix, and also watch the Sundance channel, WEtv and IFC. AMC and WEtv are […]

  • Play the first level of Super Mario 64 in your browser

    Thanks to Roystan Ross and the Unity engine, you can play the first level of Super Mario 64 in your browser. This little nugget came to my attention yesterday, and unfortunately it became lost on my worksheet. Better late than never, I suppose. Anyway, the level is free-to-play and if you don’t wish to play […]

  • Steam’s Discovery Update has helped increase revenue for smaller titles

    Valve has said its Discovery Queue has increased product page views across Steam by 30% since the company launched the Discovery Update. According to Valve, 75% of those views come from the Discovery Queue, and 16% of product views can be attributed to the Discovery Queue. Even Steam Tags clicks have increased. The system is […]

  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection April update includes “more ranked playlists”

    The next content update for Halo: The Master Chief Collection will “address a variety of issues across the game,” according to 343 Industries, including specific improvements to ranking. New quit and betrayal penalties are also in the works as the development team prepares to roll out ranks to additional playlists. According to 343, the latest […]

  • Get Spec Ops: The Line for free through 2K Games sale on Humble Store

    A 2K Games sale is going on this weekend on the Humble Store with up to 83% off on select titles. Games on sale include Evolve, Bioshock, Civilization and other franchises. Plus, Spec Ops: The Line can be yours for free with the purchase of any -2K title on sale. To see the full list […]

  • Dota 2 The International 2015 tickets are sold out

    Tickets to Dota 2 The International 2015 are now sold out, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. The tickets went on sale in two phases starting March 27. Phase one sold out in six minutes, and phase two sold out in four minutes. Each round of sales offered the same quantity of General Admission tickets priced at […]

  • Here’s what’s expected in Battlefield 4′s Weapon Crate DLC – video

    A new Battlefield 4 drop is on the horizon, and to give you an idea of what to expect, we have a video for you below featuring information on the Weapon Crate DLC. According to Battlefield expert Westie, players can expect five new weapons along with the return of the Gun Master game mode. The […]

  • Pillars of Eternity issues to be addressed in patch 1.03, expected next week

    Obsidian Entertainment plans to release a Pillars of Eternity patch next week to combat issues users have reported. Until the patch is released, the developers have posted workarounds for some of the most common issues. The issues reported span framerate drops, inability to launch the game unless in administrator mode, crashes on 32-bit machines, animal […]

  • Mortal Kombat X videos show Erron Black gameplay, Ermac fatalities, more

    Erron Black, the gunslinger which was outed for Mortal Kombat X in the achievements listing last week, was featured in the latest livestream from NetherRelam Studios yesterday evening. Along with gameplay, fatalities and variations for Black, the developer also provided a look at gameplay for: Ermac vs Mileena; Ermac’s brutality and fatality moves; Lui Kang […]

  • The Legend of Zelda Wii U: 2015 release not a “priority”, skipping E3

    The Legend of Zelda franchise producer Eiji Aonuma is featured in the latest video update on the status of The Legend of Zelda for Wii U, stating a 2015 release is no longer a “number one priority” for the team. While Aonuma never specifically says the game has been delayed into 2016, the announcement confirms […]

  • Destiny gameplay designer exits for Bethesda

    Destiny’s senior gameplay designer Josh Hamrick announced on Twitter overnight he would be leaving the company in a week’s time for Bethesda. Hamrick joined Bungie in 2009 after working two years at Midway Austin, where he created multiplayer maps, modified single-player levels, and other designer functions. He was in charge of fixing bug in code […]