Electronic Arts has acquired leading publisher of iOS games Chillingo for $29m. Chillingo is best known for publishing the iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) version of Rovio's hit Angry Birds title under its casual Clickgamer.com brand. The deal includes $17m cash upfront plus a $12m earn out.
Founded in 2002, Chillingo is a relative veteran in the mobile games industry. It is one of the largest publishers of iPhone games. It offers more than 250 free and paid games on the App Store, including those sold by its Clickgamer.com casual games outfit.
EA's acquisition of Chillingo is the latest move in a recent wave of consolidation in the mobile games industry. It follows DeNA's $400m acquisition of iOS games publisher ngmoco.
EA Mobile is among the leading iPhone games publishers; it is one of the few publishers that can maintain relatively high prices ($2.99 and above) for its games at the top of the App Store charts.
Despite its success, the acquisition is necessary for EA to expand its iOS footprint. Thus far, EA's App Store strategy has focused on releasing titles from its videogames catalogue and IP based on popular sports, games and entertainment franchises. Its key App Store titles include the perennial handheld favourite Tetris, The Sims and FIFA games.
The acquisition of Chillingo gives EA access to a large catalogue of titles and contact with a network of independent developers. It also gives EA access to Chillingo's mobile games community Crystal, which uses social features to drive game adoption and engagement. Social and community features will be vital to growing the smartphone games market in coming years, as microtransactions and advertising will become more important sources of revenue. Screen Digest expects EA to use the Chillingo acquisition to expand its use of community gaming features and drive adoption of new business models.