EA flies into mobile

Contact: Jarrett Streebin

Electronic Arts (EA) recently shelled out a reported $20m for mobile game publisher Chillingo. The UK-based startup published the popular iPhone game Angry Birds. Although the acquisition didn’t include the game or its developers, it will help EA market and distribute its mobile games. This small deal is the latest in a hot streak in mobile entertainment transactions this past year.

Last year, EA bought mobile and social game developer Playfish for $300m, plus an additional earnout of up to $100m, making EA one of the largest developers for mobile and social games. The company followed that up with the purchase of mobile game developer IronMonkey Studios earlier this year. The Australian company had already built mobile games for existing EA titles such as Medal of Honor and Need for Speed. Now, Chillingo will provide the channels to better market and distribute these and future titles to iPhone as well as handheld consoles such as Sony’s PSP Mini and Nintendo’s DSiWare and WiiWare platforms. It’s likely that this distribution will extend to Android titles as well.

Not that EA is alone doing deals for mobile gaming companies. In mid-October, DeNA dropped a whopping $400m on ngmoco, one of the largest acquisitions ever involving the iPhone. These are just a few of the transactions that have helped double the M&A activity in the mobile gaming sector. So far this year, there have been 29 deals, up from 17 last year, according to The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase.