Electronic Arts Will Bring Third-Party Developers' Games to Social and Mobile

Electronic Arts announced at a hip bar in San Francisco as part of GDC this afternoon that it is adding mobile and social to its publishing business through the recent acquisitions of Playfish and Chillingo.

While the announcement received only a few minutes during the presentation, they represent a significant investment in the company’s digital efforts.

With addition of mobile and social to its 26-year old publishing business, this likely establishes EA as the largest publishing company in the industry that can say it can help bring third-party content across three sectors — the traditional games business, mobile and social.

Still, the rest of the event was focused on the company’s bread and butter. The gaming press salivated over some of the hardcore gaming titles for Xbox and Sony PlayStation that have yet-to-be-released. The contrast was obvious when C.J. Prober, Playfish’s VP of publishing and product management, took the stage and joked that EA was going to integrate Pet Society into Crysis 2, in which players are attacked by a frightening alien species.

With the announcement today, EA will support third-party developers in getting to mobile platforms, such as iPhone and Android, and social platforms, such as Facebook.

In an interview, Playfish’s Prober said the platform will lend its expertise to social-game makers, who need help negotiating the ins and outs on Facebook. “In November 2009, Playfish became a part of EA and since then we’ve opened up the platform to EA with such games as FIFA and Madden, and now we are extending it out to third parties.”

Every deal will be structured differently, but most likely it will entail some sort of revenue split.

In return, EA will provide guidance on the latest techniques for distribution on Facebook, including access to marketing to its 40 million-or-so users. The platform expertise will include billing and analytics technology, and EA may consider investing resources into the game.

But why not go it alone? As GDC demonstrates, there’s hundreds of thousands of game developers who think they can still make a hit on Facebook.

Prober points out that the most successful social games have hardly changed over the past year — Zynga’ remains No. 1 and 2 with the hits FarmVille and CityVille.


Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post