Electronic Arts, never one to miss an opportunity, announced on Monday that it plans to support the next iteration of Microsoft’s mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8. There’s no mobile operating system running on smartphones sold in the west that doesn’t carry EA’s games at this point. The company’s public commitment to Microsoft’s platform is significant if only because it suggests that EA has yet to give up on Windows as a viable venue for its mobile business.
“We’re working very closely with Microsoft to understand what their views on navigation are,” COO Peter Moore told Bloomberg, “Anything that allows more platforms to be adopted quickly that have a gaming element is good for Electronic Arts.”
That’s why Electronic Arts threw its support behind Windows Phone 7 as well. When Nokia and Microsoft began releasing Lumia phones around the world in late 2011, Electronic Arts was there. In October 2011, EA announced details of the EA Nokia partnership that brought mobile games like FIFA 12, Bejeweled, Dead Space, and NBA Jam to Windows Phone 7 devices.
Those games are, of course, familiar to anyone with an iOS or Android phone or tablet. Electronic Arts isn’t picky about where it sells its mobile wares, just that they’re as broadly available as possible. Peter Moore, who’s been rumored to be taking over John Riccitiello’s spot with the company as CEO, has talked at length about EA’s cross-platform gaming ambitions. “We think that the future of gaming is cross-platform play, always having something with that’s a gaming device, but everything you do connects.”
Is there a grand plan beneath EA’s support of Windows Phone 8? Xbox 720/Durango, Windows Phone 8, and the Windows 8 operating system are expected to unify Microsoft’s gaming business across three platforms. Even basic Windows games like Minesweeper will take on the Xbox brand when Windows 8 ships. EA’s cross-platform plans certainly tie-in with Microsoft’s, so naturally the two would want to work together even on the mobile platform.
EA also needs a way to grow mobile revenue. Mobile revenues for the April to June quarter totaled just $69 million, a drop of more than 20 percent from the previous quarter but a 21 percent rise over the same period in 2011. Windows Phone 8 might not represent a massive influx of new customers, but ubiquity is EA’s goal.