The best leaders of Glu Mobile, CEO Nick Earl and chief operating officer Eric Ludwig, have decided to leave Electronic Arts in late August. Their move comes at a time when EA has set in location a tactic to turn out to be a substantially larger player in mobile games.
The exits come just a handful of months soon after EA completed its acquisition of Glu for $2.4 billion at the finish of April. In some approaches, it is not a surprise. After EA purchased Codemasters for $1.2 billion in December, the best executives of the racing game enterprise also left their jobs. And EA’s mobile tactic is in the hands of Jeff Karp, who returned to EA in July 2020 soon after spending time away at firms such as Big Fish Games. EA also announced in July its plans to obtain Golf Clash mobile game maker Playdemic for $1.4 billion.
Now senior vice president of mobile at EA, Karp laid out his tactic in an interview with me. In a statement, EA stated it is working closely with Earl and Ludwig to make certain a seamless transition though EA continues its integration plans.
“This is something that Nick and Eric have been talking to us about for the past few months as they’re pursuing the next phases in their careers and lives,” Karp stated in our interview. “They’ve done an amazing job to help build the Glu business and culture. And it’s helped us a ton over the past few months with the transition. And this was really a decision that they made. We are excited about the company that they built.”
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Tribe of tribes
Karp explained the scale of EA’s new mobile operations. The enterprise now has 20 mobile game studios working on a wide array of games. And its roster of mobile game personnel has doubled from 750 prior to the acquisitions to more than 1,500 now, Karp stated. EA has had successes in mobile games such as Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, made by Capital Games, and its EA Sports titles. They span numerous continents. As EA’s studio chief Laura Miele says, it is a tribe of tribes.
“We see a massive growth opportunity ahead of us,” Karp stated. “Becoming a global powerhouse is something that we’re really taking to heart.”
But EA faces critical competitors on a wide variety of mobile fronts from rivals about the globe such as Tencent’s TiMi Studios, Supercell (also owned by Tencent), King (owned by Activision Blizzard), AppLovin, Playtika, Zynga, Niantic, and numerous other folks.
By adding Glu, EA picked up studios like Crowdstar (maker of Design Home), Glu Toronto Studio, Glu Sports, Glunies, and GluPlay. But EA also owns Industrial Toys (which is working on a Battlefield mobile game), Contingency, Chocolate Panda, PopCap, Pogo, Firemonkeys, WildCard Sports, Mako Studios, Adrenaline, Track Twenty, and Slingshot.
Karp believes that EA can bring its games to more players about the world, partly by way of localization efforts. Its games span sports, function-playing games, way of life titles like Design Home, casual games from PopCap, and midcore games from a wide variety of studios. EA desires to emphasize that it is taking a mobile-very first method with numerous of its franchises.
“We’re not just dependent on one game, which a lot of publishers are, but we really have the fuel and the ammunition to leverage that portfolio to become one of the top publishers in the industry,” Karp stated. “And that’s something we’re starting on this year.”
Karp is also excited about EA’s talent base, now that it has doubled its mobile game development headcount. Karp stated the enterprise is generating excellent progress with hiring more diverse talent that can come back to aid EA make greater games with more diverse characters that can be more broadly attractive.
Organizing mobile games
Karp stated that EA is organizing the studios in a wide variety of approaches. One group will include things like the sports games, which include things like Madden NFL, NBA, FIFA, and UFC. On best of that, EA added MLB from Glu, and it owns the Tap Sports title and it will quickly personal Golf Clash. You can add to that the associated racing games that EA owns with its racing brands. Andrew Pederson will lead the group.
“We really we have a robust opportunity to accelerate our growth in sports,” Karp stated. “I think players are going to get better experiences out of those games that they’re really going to be more finely tuned towards not just simulation, but with Clash and Tap Sports, a potentially greater ecosystem of players who will be involved with a sports games.”
On best of that, Alex Seropian, head of Industrial Toys, will also lead a lot of the efforts in the mobile shooter game genre. Seropian, the former CEO of Bungie, joined EA by way of an acquisition and his group is working on a Battlefield mobile game that will be coming out in the close to future.
Seropian is also consulting closely with Respawn Entertainment head Vince Zampella, who has his personal mobile game group and is developing a mobile version of the smash hit cost-free-to-play battle royale game Apex Legends.
“With the leadership of Alex and Vince, we really have a great opportunity ahead of us in that genre, which arguably is growing rapidly,” Karp stated.
Malichi Boyle of Capital Games will continue to guide the function-playing games/4X tactic titles such as the Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes franchise, which has generated enormous returns more than the years for EA. EA also acquired Disney’s Sorcerer’s Arena by way of Glu, and that game continues to do nicely. EA also has a casual games division for titles like Bejeweled, Design Home, and Glu’s Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. That is run by Mark Van Ryswyk, and it will include things like EA’s The Sims mobile games.
Karp sees the true worth in studios and teams that have worked with each other for a lengthy time. Those teams are like symphonies, he stated, and they just work nicely with each other generating hits.
EA will combine the central services of EA Mobile and Glu into a joint operation. In central services, Roy Harvey will lead mobile tech,
Kate Gorman will lead central mobile item and tactic, Karen Schulman will lead central operations. Chris Akhavan will lead ad revenues and mobile corporate development and organization development and particular projects Becky Ann Hughes will lead Glu international development Heather Gille will lead HR and “people experience” Tom Little will run finance and Jamie McKinlay will lead mobile marketing and advertising and publishing.
But Karp stated they have no plans for layoffs from redundancies. Karp hasn’t added up all of the openings the enterprise has for more mobile devs but, but he is sure it is above 50.
“We continue to create autonomy with each studio, as each has their own magic and specialty,” Karp stated. “What’s important to us is just find the best talent and make sure that we support them in the appropriate way.”
How to win
While EA was like numerous console/Computer game organizations that struggled to discover its footing in mobile, its roots in mobile go back a lengthy way to its obtain of Jamdat Mobile in 2005 for $680 million. But the resulting EA Mobile division struggled to discover a footing in the iPhone era, when numerous competitors began increasing up into multibillion organizations. It had occasional hits like The Simpsons: Tapped Out. But rivals discovered the worth of live operations that turned mobile games into “forever franchises,” as Zynga calls them. They create income forever.
“These are more like live services than then than standalone games,” he stated. “If you look at the top games in the market, the majority of them are three to five years old. We are now much quicker to react to player feedback and adapt and have much more robust life services. That’s what our players want. We have to earn a player coming back to our game every day.”
EA has made that transition into the cost-free-to-play and live operations era, but now it has to execute, substantially like Activision Blizzard ultimately succeeded with the 2019 launch of Call of Duty: Mobile, which now has more than 500 million downloads.
“The next phase is really deepening our expertise in this genre and accelerating our games in the markets,” Karp stated. “We want to be a learning organization and constantly learn through player feedback. We’re really inspired to improve our live services.”
Karp stated EA is proud of the entertainment that it gives across all devices, and it sees itself as platform agnostic.
“Consoles have done amazing for years, but we feel like that there’s a big area of opportunity to accelerate mobile, bring in new players, and expand to new audiences,” Karp stated.
Karp stated the enterprise is seeking at new technologies such as nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and blockchain.
“We are highly inquisitive and actively exploring the NFT sector and continue to explore how to offer great experiences for our players with our top brands,” he stated. “We find the market very interesting and are learning more about it on a daily basis. That said, we think the real driver of NFT and blockchain will be great brands and great experiences.”
And Karp noted that hardcore fans of console and Computer games do not have to be concerned, as EA will nonetheless be generating games for them as nicely.
“EA has always done an exceptional job of caring about the community and the core players. So that’s not going away,” Karp stated. “I would just say that players are different on mobile games, but there is some overlap.”
As for future acquisitions, Karp stated the enterprise will continue to discover all the possibilities to develop.