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PopCap Games is bolstering its position in social gaming, a move that comes as the Seattle game maker contemplates an initial public offering and contends with increasing competition from powerhouse Zynga. Today, the company announced the purchase of ZipZapPlay, maker of the Facebook game Baking Life.

San Franciso-based ZipZapPlay, a 17-person company created by Carneige Mellon University researchers Curt Bererton and Mathilde Pignol, has 2.3 million active monthly users, according to Inside Social Games.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi notes that there’s a “high stakes battle” going on for the “future of social games,” pointing out that Zynga just opened a new development studio in Seattle under the direction of former executive Neil Roseman. The purchase of ZipZapPlay gives PopCap a stronger position in San Francisco.

PopCap’s titles — including Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies — are some of the most recognizable and beloved titles in gaming. But the company hasn’t met with as much success on Facebook, a platform where Zynga dominates with titles such as FarmVille and CityVille.

ZipZapPlay appears to be a way to reverse that trend. But PopCap is making other moves to catch up to Zynga, including the formation of the new Seattle game studio 4th & Battery which is charged with creating game titles in a more nimble fashion.

Interestingly, Inside Social Games notes that the future of Baking Life is uncertain and a new project is currently under development.

VentureBeat’s Takahashi reports that PopCap plans to release four to five new Facebook games this year.

Will that be enough to keep pace with Zynga, which now boasts 259 million monthly users and has been on its own buying spree as of late?

Previously on GeekWire: PopCap’s Unpleasant Horse arrives on the iPhone … ‘uncensored.’

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