The advertising-supported Pogo Games App escalates the mobile gaming competition between Electonic Arts and rival Zynga.
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Less than a week after Zynga bought mobile gaming company Newtoy, Electronic Arts is answering back with the release of an iPhone version of EA's most popular Pogo online games.
The advertising-supported Pogo Games App, released Friday on the App Store, includes five games for the Apple smartphone and iPod Touch. The games are synchronized with Pogo's online games, so rewards, leader boards, and challenges are extended to the mobile devices.
The announcement reflects an overlapping mobile gaming strategy between EA and Zynga. Both are offering games linked to legacy titles already familiar to many people. For example, Pogo previously released Scrabble, licensed from Hasbro, for the iPhone, while Zynga's purchase of Newtoy gives it a similar game, called Words With Friends. EA also licenses a mobile version of Monopoly from Hasbro, while Newtoy offers Chess with Friends.
The new Pogo Games App includes Turbo 21, a twist on the black jack card game, and Mahjong Safari, based on the Chinese dominoes-like game Mahjong. Pogo's online games attract 11 million visitors a month, and players spend an average of 60 minutes on the site, according to EA.
While the mobile games the vendors offer have similarities, their ways of making money is different. EA draws revenue from advertising and the sale of virtual items for games, while Zynga makes most of its money from the latter. To avoid watching ads, Pogo users can pay for an ad-free version. In the case of the latest iPhone app, that would cost $2.99.
EA has been moving aggressively into mobile gaming, as sales of video games for consoles has slowed. The vendor entered into a licensing deal with Hasbro in August 2007 and has since released many of the latter's popular titles on the App Store. In October, EA bought mobile game creator Chillingo, which makes the popular "Angry Birds" game for the iPhone and iPad.
Zynga's roots are in Facebook, where the company's Farmville remains the number one game with 55 million users, according to AppData, which monitors gaming on the social network. Zynga has been expanding its portfolio of social games by purchasing six game makers this year, including Newtoy, the first focused exclusively on mobile games. Zynga has said it plans to migrate all its games to mobile devices eventually.
Another major competitor in the mobile space is Disney, which bought mobile game maker Playdom over the summer for $763 million.
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