Electronics Arts in talks to port games to Microsoft's Windows Phone 8

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Electronic Arts is negotiating with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to port some of its most popular games to the software giant's forthcoming Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system.

"We're working very closely with Microsoft to understand what their views on gaming navigation are," Electronic Arts COO Peter Moore told Bloomberg on the eve of the annual Gamescom conference. "Anything that allows more platforms to be adopted quickly that have a gaming element is good for Electronic Arts."

Devices running Windows Phone 8 are expected to ship later this year. The Windows Phone platform currently lags far behind Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS in smartphone market share, in part because of the relative scarcity of Windows Phone apps and games: Microsoft presently offers roughly 80,000 apps to consumers in 63 countries, compared to Apple's App Store, which boasts an inventory in excess of 700,000 according to app store metrics provider 148Apps.

"It is important to attract the gamers, and due to Windows Phone 8's relation to the classical Windows PC programs, it is a good platform for game developers," Jyske Bank analyst Robert Jakobsen said. "This is clearly a step forward for Microsoft's mobile operating system."

Moore added that EA, the second largest U.S. videogames publisher, is also on the prowl for new acquisitions in the mobile gaming space. A little over a year ago, EA scooped up PopCap Games for around $650 million in cash and $100 million in shares. Late last month, the publisher merged its two biggest mobile game studios, Firemint and IronMonkey, to create a new unit dubbed Firemonkeys. EA purchased IronMonkey in early 2010 and acquired Firemint in mid-2011.

Electronic Arts reported mobile and other handheld digital revenues increased 34 percent year over year during its fiscal first quarter, which ended June 30. EA recently said it plans to shift its business away from premium mobile game sales to focus on the freemium model, calling free-to-play titles "the norm" moving forward. Upcoming EA projects include Strike Force, an HTML5-based 3D multiplayer title enabling gamers to compete across smartphones, tablets, gaming handhelds and other Web-enabled devices.

For more:
- read this Bloomberg article

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Electronic Arts to focus on freemium gaming
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