St. Patrick’s Day comes to The Simpsons: Tapped Out on mobile

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St. Patrick’s Day has hit Springfield in The Simpsons: Tapped Out on mobile, as EA has updated the game with new decorations, buildings, characters and quests to complete for a limited time. The event sees Homer Simpson working to become the biggest lush he can in celebration of the holiday, while little Lisa hopes to stop his excessive drinking.

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The Sims FreePlay updated with Sporty and Geek Sims and hobbies

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EA Mobile has launched its newest update for The Sims FreePlay, bringing a complete life cycle experience to Sims within the game. Now, players can have their Sims move onto the afterlife, though they’re certainly not done in the game. In addition, the game’s personalities feature has received an update, and two new hobbies have been added to the experience.

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Madden 25’s CoachGlass app is an Xbox One game changer

Image via EA Sports

Image via EA Sports

With millions of sports gamers debating the differences between the upcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, EA Sports is teaming with Microsoft to offer an exclusive second screen app called CoachGlass that should send Madden fans making a mad dash toward the One.

Utilizing CoachGlass, gamers will be able to use their tablets or smartphones to help strategize against opponents, almost like becoming a computerized defensive coordinator. You’ll be able see your opponent’s offensive strategies as the game plays out, complete with previous play calls, and even player tendencies per formation. (more…)

Heroes of Dragon Age is free-to-play fight franchise fans have been waiting for

Image via EA

Image via EA

Heroes of Dragon Age is a party-based strategy-combat game that enables virtual combatants to jump back into classic Dragon Age lore, fighting battles and combining characters in a way unique to BioWare’s original universe.

“This is the first opportunity where you can take characters from anywhere — good guys, bad guys, dragons — and you can have them all as part of your party,” says Tim Lander, the game’s producer. (more…)

EA has massive hit on its (evil) hands with Dungeon Keeper

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Image via EA

Curious what game will be burning up the mobile charts this winter?

Look no further than EA and Mythic Entertainment’s reboot of the 90s classic Dungeon Keeper, the devilishly funny and addictive game where in this case, 50-percent strategy plus 50-percent tower defense equals 100-percent pure evil. That’s right, Horny is back, and being bad is better than ever. (more…)

Plants vs. Zombies 2 crosses 16 million downloads, becomes EA’s biggest mobile launch

Image via PopCap

Image via PopCap

Last week, Electronic Arts and PopCap released Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time to a worldwide audience on iPhone and iPad. In the short time since, the game has become the No. 1 mobile game launch in EA’s history. Downloaded over 16 million times, the free-to-play sequel to the original Plants vs. Zombies has rocketed to the No. 1 position on App Store charts around the world.

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EA launches Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar on iOS worldwide

ultima-forever-650Image via EA

Electronic Arts has announced the worldwide launch of Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar on iOS. The spiritual successor to Ultima 4 is a real-time cooperative RPG, inspired by the 30-year history of the original Ultima franchise.

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Supercell catches Playfish co-founder Kristian Segerstrale as new board member

Supercell logoSupercell, the startup darling of the mobile gaming industry, today announced the addition of Kristian Segerstrale to its board of directors. Segrestrale is known for co-founding Playfish and Macrospace (which changed to Glu Mobile after merging with Sorrent).

Segerstrale, a limited partner at venture capital firm Initial Capital, has been associated with Supercell from the start. Initial Capital led the Finnish studio’s first round of funding in 2010. Electronics Arts acquired Playfish in 2009 for more than $300 million, and Segrestrale joined EA as executive vice president of digital until he departed in February. (more…)

PopCap launches Solitaire Blitz for iOS

PopCap logoGame developer Electronic Arts PopCap today released Solitaire Blitz for iOS, a fast-paced, competitive card game.

Solitaire Blitz, which released for Facebook last year (Read our review of the game here), currently has 483,055 daily active users on the social platform, according to estimates from our traffic tracking service AppData.

In Solitaire Blitz, users are tasked with matching cards to clear their decks of cards in 60 seconds. Users can also compete with friends and follow along with the game’s storyline.

“The touch-screen experience takes Solitaire Blitz to whole new level,” said Scott Willoughby, franchise director for Solitaire Blitz, in a statement. “Combined with everything else that makes this game so amazing, you end up with the best free solitaire game available for mobile devices.” “Existing fans and first-time users alike are going to love this new version, especially since they can now compete with friends for high scores on the go.”

The game is available now for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

EA’s Nick Earl on the transition to free-to-play, relationships with mobile platforms and core gamers on tablets

Gaming giant Electronic Arts, which has seen years of success on console, PC and handheld, is seeing more and more success in the burgeoning mobile games market. The company released the highly-anticipated driving game Real Racing 3 yesterday and will launch Command and Conquer: Tiberium Alliances soon for mobile.Nick Earl headshot

Nick Earl, senior vice president and general manager of EA’s All Play label, recently spoke with Inside Mobile Apps about EA’s transition to free-to-play, its relationships with the mobile platforms (Apple and Google) and the core gamer market on tablet.

Inside Mobile Apps: What has EA learned so far from some of its freemium titles like The Simpson: Tapped Out and The Sims FreePlay?

Nick Earl, senior vice president and general manager of EA’s All Play label (pictured right): We’ve learned a lot. Top of the list is how open this model is in terms of the number of players and how big the audience can be when a game is free-to-play, even though there are a lot of opportunities if you’re willing to spend money inside these freemium games. Having [games] as this model means it’s completely open and free for millions to play on a daily basis. We’ve learned that we have to be able to support a large audience and that’s the infrastructure of the game. The operations has to be able to support large audiences and we’ve learned that on games like The Simpsons, for example, which now has now more than five million daily active users, and when we started it, we struggled. We rebuilt the infrastructure to support and maintain large audiences.

We’ve learned that the design of a free-to-play game is different from a premium game or console game where you pay upfront and get all you can eat. It requires a different style of design, that’s a core compulsion loop, that the user experience as well as the sinks where the game tends to monetize. You need to construct a game that’s going to work for the majority of people that are not going to pay at all but is still going to make sense for people who have the disposable income and desire to speed up and experience or get access to a premium item, and that doesn’t really upset the balance that exists for the entire community that are playing the game. There’s a real art to creating and designing these games.

IMA: With Real Racing 3 recently releasing, which is a free-to-play game, could you talk about the decision or the process of making the change from Real Racing 2′s premium model to the freemium model?

Earl: From the beginning, we made the decision, both EA and Firemonkeys to go freemium from the beginning for a couple of reasons. One, is that the market was moving and voting for going freemium, even though this it’s not supported by everyone because some people don’t like change. We acknowledge that and understand it. The vast majority like that there is no barrier to download a game and to start enjoying it and be a part of that community and experience. It’s clear to us that the way we we’re going to make this the most accessible and get the audience to appreciate what we believe to be a high-quality experience — free-to-play was the way to go. Secondly, we came up during the course of development with this unique, innovative multiplayer mode called Time-Shifted Multiplayer, which allows you to compete with your friends but do it in an asynchronous manner. Once we came up with that, we realized that this game is going to be more fun if there was a large audience. If there wasn’t a limit of people willing to spend $5 or $7 or $10 dollars on a game. We wanted to open it up and make it free. As we were developing, it was validating the decision to go freemium and that’s why we went all in at that point.

IMA: On the flip side, you still have premium titles in your portfolio on iOS and Android and you’ve seen some success with games that are premuium with a price upfront and in-app purchases as well, like Need for Speed: Most Wanted and FIFA Soccer 13. Is EA still seeing success with premium mobile games?

Earl: We have not made the decision to focus exclusively on premium. There’s a place for premium with in-app purchases — we call that “paymium” to make it more confusing. There’s a place for those games and we’ll continue to evaluate each game by a franchise by franchise or game by game basis to figure out what’s the optimal way to construct a game and construct a business model for that game. The majority of games are going to be freemium going forward unless something radical shifts inside the industry. I don’t see it departing from this model any time soon.

IMA: In EA’s last earnings call, the company mentioned again how much revenue The Simpsons: Tapped Out generated. Distimo recently put out a report, which showed EA at the top spot among all top grossing cross-app store publishers. With mobile development having better margins than console development, will EA be focusing more of its business on the mobile platform?

Earl: We can’t talk about our gross profits and gross margins from system to system, but what I would say is this — we are enormous believers in the mobile platform and we’re excited about the future. If you take a look at the numbers and the trajectory, there’s no argument against how fast these devices are being adopted. We’re seeing unbelievable activation rates on a daily basis. We saw enormous numbers over Christmas. We’re seeing a whole market spring up in front of us. We’re excited about mobile. There are potentially millions of people that will upgrade from feature phones to smartphones and tablets in the years ahead. So there’s just no denying that mobile is enormously exciting to this company. And, our goal is to make the greatest highest quality games we can in front as many people as possible.

With all of that said, the company is invested in the future of consoles, and now that there’s some announcements about the next gen, we’re excited about the possibilities there and we’re also big players in the PC business and have some big franchises like The Sims that make sense for the PC — both online and offline. We’re a large publisher that has the ability and the resources to go after multiple markets and find a way to tie these franchises, so that you can play and interact with them across any device at any time, anywhere. That’s the Holy Grail here — to have the ability to access a given franchise from multiple devices, and your data moves seamlessly across sessions. That’s something EA believes in.

IMA: We recently spoke with the developer working on Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances, which will launch on mobile soon, featuring cross-platform play between mobile and PC. Will more EA games feature cross-platform play?

Earl: That’s something we’ll push toward. There’s a lot of intricacies around design. I don’t think you can necessarily stop playing on web and then pick up where you were on mobile, but I do think you can interact with it. I like to use FIFA as a good example of that. On your phone, you can act more like the manager and switch positions — who your players are on the starting eleven and later you can take that new roster and play a new game in all its 3D glory with your 5.1 surround sound on a beautiful HD screen. And then the next time you can open your iPad and look at all the stats that you generated from that game. We love the notion of having your data in the cloud and being able to interact with it no matter where you are and when. (more…)

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