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EA Mobile corners mobile gaming market on iPhone 4

Electronic Arts assumed a vice grip on the Apple App Store’s mobile gaming section soon after the iPhone 4 launch.

The mobile game developer produced 12 of the top 20 most downloaded games in the App Store the day of the new iPhone’s launch. EA claims that the success of its mobile games contributed to a 12 percent year-over-year increase in EA Mobile’s annual earnings – to $212 million in non-GAAP revenue, per EA.

“We have had tremendous success with our mobile business,” said Michelle Jacob, head of global public relations for EA, Redwood City, CA. “In the 2010 fiscal year, EA Mobile launched 37 iPhone games and 50 mobile titles.

“In April 2010, EA Mobile was the No. 1 game publisher worldwide with 13.5% of Apple sales [according to internal reports],” she said. “In March 2010 EA Mobile was the No. 1 App Store game publisher in the U.S. [according to comScore].”

EA Mobile is the mobile division of Electronic Arts, a worldwide leader in entertainment software.

EA successes
EA finds itself jockeying for position in an increasingly crowded field of premium mobile gaming.

Companies as diverse as EA and Reader’s Digest find themselves competing for sales in the Apple App Store (see story).

And, the introduction of the iPad – with its large screen and higher graphical quality – has companies even more interested in the opportunity to increase revenues with mobile game sales  (see story).

Still, data indicates that EA has stood out from the crowd.

“In EA’s last Quarter 4 Earnings Report, we shared some significant wins with the investment community,” Ms. Jacob said. “In the quarter, mobile non-GAAP revenue was $55 million – up 15 percent year-over-year, driven by Tetris, The Sims 3, Bejeweled, and Need For Speed.

“EA mobile had seven of the top eleven games on the iPhone and iPod touch in December and seven of the top ten games on Verizon for the quarter,” she said. “We had more than half of the top 10 games on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.”

“We launched five games on the iPad at the end of Q4 and had two of the top three grossing titles – Scrabble was the No. 1 grossing title and Need For Speed was No. 3.”

The EA mobile strategy leverages its brand equity in across all gaming channels to monetize mobile content, per EA.

“EA’s global leadership in console, online and social gaming allows us to fully leverage the broad appeal of, and audience for, EA’s world-class brands,” Ms. Jacob said. “We’ve just released our first iPhone 4 title, ‘NCAA Football,’ and are promoting it through a series of activities.

“Because this is an iPhone game, we utilize the App Store and the game was listed in the iOS4 Awesome Apps and New & Noteworthy [categories] at launch,” she said. “And again, there are synergies across EA for cross-platform campaigns, global programs, leading websites, creative social media programs and more.”

The era of mobile gaming
Three major developments in the mobile industry have paved the way for the success of premium games geared towards handsets, according to EA.

First, capabilities are improving on mobile devices.

“Consumers are migrating to higher-end devices such as smart phones which offer increased processing power, bigger screens, higher memory capacity and improved features such as touch screens and accelerometers,” Ms. Jacob said

Second, the games are better.

“As a result of the improved capabilities of these devices comes an overall better gaming experience that we’re able to deliver to the consumer,” Ms Jacob said.

Finally, mobile game vendors like Apple have made games simple to purchase.

“It’s easier than ever today to play games on your phone,” Ms Jacobs said. “On key platforms like Apple, games are easier to find and simpler to purchase than ever before.

“The iPhone has proven that gaming sells devices,” she said. “Consequently, Apple and other mobile companies have recognized this and you’ve seen a shift in consumer messaging from minutes and plans to actual content. 

“We know this matters because it’s resulted in 10 times the conversion versus what we’ve seen in the traditional business.”

EA believes that these emerging trends are harbingers of the dominance of mobile gaming in the near future.

“We see that the addressable market will increase dramatically.  User adoption towards higher-end devices is happening rapidly, and we see that trend continuing,” Ms. Jacob said. “These higher-end devices are more conducive towards gaming.

“Also, the installed base will reach 5 billion over the next few years, with over a billion new devices sold each year,” she said. “We think that faster data speeds, ubiquitous billing and digital storefronts will available across all carriers and devices.
“Lastly, we see connected gaming between mobile and PC becoming more popular providing players with robust gaming experiences and truly persistent worlds.”

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer, New York.