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Rumor: Electronic Arts purchases ohai to move into social gaming

via ohai's unicorn paradeThere’s a rumor going around that Electronic Arts has purchased the San Francisco-based social gaming company Ohai. This new addition to EA’s stable would be an example of the veteran game developer’s ambition to expand into social gaming.

An exclusive article at Venturebeat says that the social gaming company was sold for a low price, though the actual purchase price is unknown at this time. Their sources also point out that there may have have been multiple bidders alongside EA including Kabam, Aeria Games, Perfect World and Tencent.

Ohai was founded in 2008 by professional Quake 2 gamer and former partner at Charles River Ventures Susan Wu. However, Wu has since stepped down as CEO and been replaced by an Ohai board member named Rex Ishibashi who was influential in EA’s online development around 20 years ago.

With $6 million raised in 2009 and a crew of 12 people, which included many game veterans, Ohai launched an ambitious Vampire MMO that didn’t do so well on Facebook because it was played in real-time. Ohai tried once more, building games in Adobe Flash 3D which were similar to Zynga but ultimately couldn’t compete with the giant. Venture beat points out that the sale is “the logical outcome of what happens when you try to take on Zynga and don’t succeed”.

Though not quite successful, the Ohai team’s efforts still caught the eye of Electronic Arts’ talent scouts. EA, once top of the gaming world, has expressed a plan to move into new forms of revenue and return the company to its former glory. EA’s president Frank Gibeau said that they would be setting their sights on MMORPGs and PC games as well as social gaming. We’ve already seen the game developer’s response to steam with the Origin service. Zynga may soon be getting some harder competition with EA snatching up social gaming talent.

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