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Electronic Arts Launches Madden NFL Game On Facebook

Social media version of the popular video game developed by Playfish, which EA acquired in 2009.

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Electronic Arts hopes to score a social media touchdown with the launch of Madden NFL Superstars, a free Facebook game.

The National Football League-based game was developed by social media game company Playfish, which EA acquired in November 2009 for $275 million cash and $25 million in equity retention arrangements. Playfish also created EA Sports FIFA, an online soccer game, that debuted on Facebook in June.

"Each day on consoles, fans are playing as many games online as the equivalent of 750 full NFL seasons. Now on Facebook, Madden NFL Superstars will bring a whole new dimension and audience to the Madden NFL experience," said Peter Moore, president of EA Sports, in a statement.

In Madden NFL Superstars, players can create a fantasy squad by collecting NFL players and competing in gridiron matchups against friends. Users can select from more than 1,500 current players from all 32 NFL 2010 team rosters, EA said.

The game includes several modes: In Season mode, players vie against other players' teams, competing in steadily more challenging matchups in their efforts to earn championship trophies. In the NFL Pro League, players' teams compete against each of this season's real NFL teams, and, in Scrimmage mode, players compete head-to-head against their Facebook friends, according to EA.

"The highly celebrated Madden NFL video game franchise from EA Sports is loved by millions. Madden NFL Superstars is a unique new experience that gives those fans, and tens of millions more, an opportunity to enjoy the excitement of NFL football on Facebook,” said Kristian Segerstrale, VP and general manager of Playfish, in a statement. “With the start of the NFL season right around the corner, we’re looking forward to feedback from the Madden NFL Superstars community to help us create the most authentic and entertaining NFL football experience possible on Facebook.”

Games are big business on Facebook, with many of the social media site's 500 million accountholders logging on to play at least one of the many available diversions. Zynga -- developer of popular Facebook games such as Farmville, Mafia Wars, and Frontierville -- dominates the segment with almost 228 million monthly active users (MAUs), according to AppData. Second-place EA has about 55 million MAUs, while Playdom rounds out the top three with approximately 44 million MAUs, AppData said.

Although the games themselves are free, social media game developers typically make money through the sale of virtual goods.

"We estimate that the U.S. virtual goods market will reach $1.6 billion in 2010, and that social gaming market will contribute $835 million of that total this year," said Justin Smith and Charles Hudson, authors of Inside Networks' "Inside Virtual Goods: The Future of Social Gaming 2010" report.

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