Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), the second- largest U.S. video-game maker, is in talks with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to bring mobile games to the next version of Windows as it sees the operating system as central to its handset strategy.
“We’re working very closely with Microsoft to understand what their views on gaming navigation are,” Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore said in a phone interview before the annual Gamescom conference kicks off this week in Cologne, Germany. “Anything that allows more platforms to be adopted quickly that have a gaming element is good for Electronic Arts.”
Electronic Arts is counting on games on phones and tablet computers as well as Internet-based titles to reduce the Redwood City, California-based company’s reliance on boxed retail products. With sales of the mobile version of Windows 8 slated for later this year, Microsoft needs developers to create products for its platform to take on Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone and devices powered by Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android software.
Android ran 68 percent of smartphones sold in the second quarter, followed by iOS, Apple’s iPhone software, with 17 percent, according to research firm IDC. That compares with 3.5 percent for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft’s mobile operating system, which ranked fifth.
Windows also trails the two market leaders in the number of games and applications available. There are more than 100,000 apps for the Microsoft product, compared with more than 600,000 each for Apple and Android.
“It is important to attract the gamers and due to Windows Phone 8’s relation to the classical Windows PC programs, it is a good platform for game developers,” said Robert Jakobsen, an analyst at Jyske Bank A/S (JYSK) in Silkeborg, Denmark. “This is clearly a step forward for Microsoft’s mobile operation system.”
Shares of Electronic Arts have slumped 37 percent this year through Aug. 10, the sixth-worst performer in the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index, as consumers shift toward online play. The shares slipped 0.4 percent to $13.03 at 9:54 a.m. in New York. Microsoft lost 1 cent to $30.41.
Activision Blizzard Inc., the largest U.S. video-game maker, dropped 1.2 percent to $11.50.
Games are the most often downloaded mobile applications for smartphones in the U.S., according to Nielsen Co., a marketing and research company.
Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), the former mobile-phone market leader attempting a comeback, plans to announce its new line of smartphones using the Windows Phone 8 operating system next month and offer them for sale before the year-end holiday shopping season, a person with knowledge of the matter said this month.
Electronic Arts plans to show a new version of city- building simulator “SimCity” as well as updates to its “FIFA Soccer,” “Medal of Honor” and “Need for Speed” titles at the Gamescom conference this week. The company is on the lookout for more acquisitions after purchasing game makers including PopCap Games Inc. and Playfish Inc., Moore said.
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