EA buys Angry Birds publisher Chillingo

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Electronic Arts has snapped up Chillingo, a U.K. publisher of Angry Birds and other iPhone and iPad games, for less than $20 million in cash, according to sources close to the deal.

Holly Rockwood, EA’s spokesperson, confirmed the purchase Wednesday morning, but would not comment on the acquisition amount.


The deal comes on the heels of a $400-million purchase of mobile game publisher Ngmoco by DeNA, a Japanese mobile Internet company that’s trying to establish a beachhead in the U.S. mobile game space.

Chillingo, based outside of Machester, U.K., in Macclesfield, publishes numerous mobile titles through its ties to independent game developers. Its two top titles, Cut the Rope and Angry Birds, occupy the No. 1 and 3 spots on the chart of top paid apps in iTunes Wednesday morning. Cut the Rope, developed by ZeptoLab, sold 1 million paid downloads within the first 10 days of release on Oct. 7. Neither Rovio, which developed Angry Birds, nor ZeptoLab is part of EA’s acquisition.

With sales for video games played on traditional consoles in steep decline, large game publishers are looking elsewhere for revenue, including mobile and social games. EA last year purchased Playfish, a developer of social games for Facebook, in a deal worth $400 million in cash.

As games for the iPhone and iPad take off, some traditional game companies are migrating their titles to the iOS platform on those devices. EA has been particularly aggressive on this front, commanding two of the top 10 paid games in iTunes’s App store Wednesday with Scrabble and Boggle.

‘By acquiring Chillingo, EA Mobile is increasing its market leadership on the Apple Platform as well as reaffirming its position as the world’s leading wireless entertainment publisher,’ EA said in a statement. ‘This acquisition will combine Chillingo’s expertise in cultivating the ideas of independent developers with EA’s global mobile publishing reach.’

-- Alex Pham