Electronic Arts to Convert ‘Real Racing’ to Free Mobile Title

Electronic Arts Inc. will offer free downloads of its newest “Real Racing” title as the second-largest U.S. video-game publisher works to draw the increasing number of gamers using mobile devices.

Electronic Arts will appeal to a wider audience of casual players by making the “Real Racing 3” multiplayer game free, said Nick Earl, the company’s senior vice president for mobile and social game development.

“The number of gamers we’re seeing moving to mobile devices is extraordinary, and there’s just no sign of it slowing down,” Earl said in an interview.

Video-game publishers have struggled to build momentum in their packaged-title businesses as consumers flock to digitally downloaded games that are available for a fraction of the $60 charged for big-budget titles sold at retail. Consumers spent $8.88 billion on packaged titles last year, including used games and rentals, down 21 percent form a year earlier, according to researcher NPD Group Inc.

Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, California, rose 0.8 percent to $17.50 at 11:55 a.m. New York time.

Mobile games generated about $100 million in revenue at Electronic Arts in its fiscal third quarter, an increase of about 18 percent. Smartphones and tablets accounted for $79 million, Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen said on a conference call this month.

“Real Racing 3” will be available on Feb. 28 on Apple Inc.’s iPhone, iPad as well as Google Inc.’s Play and Amazon.com Inc.’s application store.

Electronic Arts has been shifting popular franchise titles such as “The Simpsons” and “FIFA” to the mobile model. “Real Racing 3” features 900 different events and 600 hours of total gameplay, Earl said.

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