If you questioned Electronic Arts’ commitment to mobile gaming, today’s much talked about acquisition of PopCap Games, a possible $1.3 billion deal, should erase any doubts.
The publisher was already a huge player within the mobile industry, with an impressive lineup of hits that includes Tetris, Scrabble, FIFA and Madden.
That, however, wasn’t enough for the video game giant. To expand its reach, the company purchased Chillingo, one of the top App Store publishers, for $20 million in 2010, then followed that up by inking a deal with Firemint (Flight Control, Real Racing) for an undisclosed amount this past May.
The PopCap deal, meanwhile, gives EA access to award winning franchises such as Bejeweled, Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies, three coveted intellectual properties that have become smash hits on iPhone, iPad and other devices.
Don’t underestimate the power of Peggle.
EA’s interest in mobile goes beyond the hardcore gamer downloading the latest Need for Speed. 70-seven per cent of smart phone users are casual gamers, and 40 per cent of female gamers prefer casual games. They represent a new category of consumers eager to spend large sums of cash for the right forms of content.
Clearly, EA is one of the few console publishers that “gets” mobile. As other companies dip their collective toes into App Stores, Electronic Arts has made the right moves for the future, putting itself in a great position to become the category’s most dominant power.
To be fair, it still has a long way to go to catch Zynga, creator of Farmville. When combined with PopCap, EA has 10 million daily active users compared to Zynga’s staggering 53.6 million.
That said, EA may not close the checkbook with PopCap. As the mobile industry evolves, the company could make additional purchases to further enhance its portfolio.
You know, like Rovio, creator of Angry Birds.