Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

[UPDATED] The Next Deal in Online Gaming? Sources Say Angry Birds Publisher Chillingo Could Be Next in the Hand.

The online and mobile gaming sector has been a hotbed of deal activity over the the last year, from the sale of Playdom for $750 million and Tapulous to Disney, to the acquisition of Playfish by Electronic Arts for $400 million, to the multitude of small developers being bought up by Zynga.

Most recently, Ngmoco was sold to Japan’s DeNA for $400 million.

So what’s the next to go? Several sources said that U.K.-based Chillingo, arguably the hottest of the downloadable game publishers–mostly via apps for the Apple iPhone and iPad–is close to a sale to a bigger company.

The likely acquirer: EA.

The price estimates for Chillingo range from $80 million to close to $200 million.

[UPDATED] EA confirmed the deal to me, noting:

I can confirm EA’s purchase of Chillingo for an undisclosed price.

By acquiring Chillingo, EA Mobile is increasing its market leadership on the Apple Platform as well as reaffirming its position as the world’s leading wireless entertainment publisher.

This acquisition will combine Chillingo’s expertise in cultivating the ideas of independent developers with EA’s global mobile publishing reach.

Chillingo remains committed to its promise of providing the optimal gaming experience for consumers and diligently listening to all its audiences in order to enhance the titles we bring to market.

A source close to the situation said the price was under $20 million in cash, but there were other elements, most likely incentives and earnouts.

[Back to the original post] There are a number of other companies that could be interested in Chillingo, such as Intel, Gameloft, Activision Blizzard, DeNA and even Microsoft’s gaming unit.

But sources said EA is the one targeting Chillingo, which says of itself that it “works with a global network of independent development studios and leverages its network of marketing channels and publishing strength to promote and distribute games.”

Among Chillingo’s biggest hit titles is Angry Birds, which was published by its Clickgamer division and developed by Finland’s Rovio.

Chillingo was one of the first to publish on the iPhone platform and is planning upcoming glames to be released on Google’s Android mobile operating system.

More recently, it released Cut the Rope, which was developed by Russia’s ZeptoLab. It sold one million copies in less than 10 days and is the No. 1 paid app in the App Store.

And Chillingo recently announced a half-dozen new games for the Apple App Store.

The company also has Crystal, an open social gaming platform for the casual gaming community.

BoomTown has calls into Chillingo and EA for comment.

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