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EA: Playfish acquisition will accelerate migration to digital

All users of connected devices will benefit from deal, says SVP

EA's acquisition of leading social games company Playfish will accelerate the move from physical products to digital gaming for the company, EA Interactive senior vice president Barry Cottle has told GamesIndustry.biz.

The company confirmed yesterday it had acquired Playfish for USD 275 million, plus USD 25 million in equity retention arrangements.

The deal is one that makes "a ton of sense," according to Cottle, and will assist EA's transition into a more digitally-focused future.

"Our CEO John Riccitiello has been talking about the migration of physical goods to digital gaming and games as a service. It clearly helps accelerate that movement, or transition, for us as an organisation," he said.

"Our belief is that everyone's a gamer and everything is a gaming platform and gaming started in its roots as being social. And these guys know how to build games that can be played anywhere in a bite-sized manner.

"I just believe you're going to see also a transition away from destination sites, to more formalised gaming utilities, to people just wanting to access games on any connected platform that they have their hands on. And this helps us to accelerate that effort."

The deal will benefit consumers as greatly as it will both businesses too, said Cottle, by bringing EA and Playfish franchises to a greater number of platforms.

"You're bringing together a group of people who make fantastic games and have the expertise with the platform to truly build great stuff and delight customers, and you're marrying it with great brands and IP and scale and resources too," he said.

"I think we'll make the combined entity not only successful in the near term but also we'll have sustainable defence from a business perspective. And what the customers now get is great gameplay and new franchises that Playfish is building combined with great games that they already know and love from the IP side of the house with EA."

Cottle confirmed the Playfish business would continue to run as a independent unit within the EA Interactive organisation; a group which also incorporates EA mobile and casual gaming portal Pogo.

Playfish co-founder and CEO Kristian Segerstrale added the move would enable Playfish to grow even more rapidly and more quickly achieve its goals.

"We started the company two years ago to change how the world plays games, creating these connected experiences for friends to play together," he told GamesIndustry.biz.

"It's been a wonderful journey over the past two years and we've grown at a phenomenal pace - faster than we would have ever dreamed of - and the really exciting thing about this deal for us is just how much it will be able to accelerate growth and accelerate our mission to change how the world plays games.

"It does that both by giving us greater scale and a greater set of resources globally from day one. It allows us to take those franchises that we created and nurtured on Facebook but also bring those to other platforms."

EA holds some of the most loved franchises in computer games, he added, and he is "super excited" by the opportunity to extend those franchises onto social networks.

"The space has really just exploded and it's huge," said Cottle, pointing out the number of active Facebook users reached 250 million in September of this year.

"It's just a huge environment of people playing games. 22 of the top 25 applications now on Facebook are folks playing games. Social gaming is real, it's here and it's big. So for us it's a great move to basically come together with the leader in the industry."

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