Posts Tagged ‘EA’

Startup Row Sham Bow raises $3M, Nintendo gets new VP

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

From every gamer on the planet, we’d like to thank you EA. Not only for making great titles over the years, but for providing a solid training ground for a large number of independent startups founded by your former employees. Such is the case with new upstart, Row Sham Bow, yet another social games development house.

Founded by Philip Holt and Nick Gonzalez, both former EA vets, Row Sham Bow has recently announced a successful round of Series A funding, to the tune of $3 Million. This round of funding was provided by Intersouth Partners.

“It’s not common to find a strong team like the one leading Row Sham Bow,” said John Glushik of Intersouth Partners in a statement. “With proven experience developing for and leading gaming companies, this team is perfectly composed to lead a company that is creating innovative games and technology that will engage audiences in new ways.”

Holt was previously Vice President and Studio General Manager of EA Tiburon, while Gonzalez previously served as Chief Software Architect at the same EA studio. Oddly enough, Gonzalez was also under the employ of Massive Inc., serving as their Chief Technology Officer. Combined, Holt, who will serve as President and CEO of Row Sham Bow, and Gonzalez, who takes on the role of Chief Technology Officer, have a total of over 32 years of online technology development experience.

“We are excited to partner with Intersouth as we launch and grow our company,” said Holt in a statement. “We believe that having a highly respected venture firm like Intersouth make its first gaming investment in Row Sham Bow not only illustrates the opportunity we have, but also demonstrates the continuing value that Orlando has as an important game development center.”

Ed. note: All seriousness aside, if you’re not already familiar with the term Row Sham Bow, do yourself a favor and have a look at what the sub-text of this company moniker is. A message to EA?

Nintendo hires new EVP of Sales and Marketing

Shifting gears from startup to long-standing player, Nintendo of America has recently announced the appointment of a new Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Scott Moffitt.

In a complete antithesis of the Row Sham Bow situation, Moffit arrives at Nintendo with no video game industry experience. Instead, he’s spent his 20+year career dedicated to consumer goods, as he arrives from Henkel Consumer Goods, where he was responsible for top shelf brands including Dial, Right Guard, Tone, and Pure & Natural. If you’ve noticed the complete overhaul of both the Dial and Right Guard brands and presentation, you’ve seen Moffitt’s work first hand.

“Scott Moffitt makes a marvelous addition to the Nintendo team,” said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime in a statement. “His expertise in driving growth will be a terrific asset as we build momentum for the Nintendo 3DS system and continue to reach new audiences for the Wii console.”

An interesting move for sure from Nintendo’s side. In an industry where ‘experts’ and ‘veterans’ tend to clutch to their own industry, it should be interesting to see where a consumer goods specialist takes the company. That’s not to say that there isn’t a great deal of overlap, but Moffitt’s inexperience in the industry might be seen as a detriment. With that said, it’s precisely this outside expertise that may drive Nintendo of America to new, never-before-seen heights.


EA to acquire Firemint, Glu Mobile partners with Blammo Games

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Redwood City, CA based EA games has recently announced their intentions to acquire Melbourne, Australia mobile development studio Firemint. Driving the acquisition is Firemint’s impressive lineup, including their Flight Control and Real Racing for iPhone and iPad. While the deal has yet to close, reports indicate that the hangup is not monetarily related, and that the sign off should occur within the next four weeks.

“The Firemint team is remarkable for its critical and commercial success,” said Barry Cottle, Executive Vice President and General Manger of EA Interactive in a statment. “Having them as part of EAi will accelerate our position as worldwide leader in game development for mobile devices and online gaming platforms.”

The acquisition of Firemint arrives on the heels of EA’s acquisition of Mobile Post Production, a smartphone cross-platform development and porting firm, clearly indicating that EA has big plans in store for it’s mobile division.

Cottle also adds, “The added technical expertise of MPP, combined with the creative talent of Firemint and our EAi studio teams, fuels EA’s leadership in delivering top selling, high quality games across mobile phones and smartphones, tablets and future digital interactive entertainment platforms.”

Glu Mobile and Blammo Games

Just up the road a bit (so to speak), San Francisco, CA based publisher of 3D social and mobile games, Glu Mobile has recently announced a partnership with Blammo Games. Along with Blammo Games’ IP, Glu Mobile now has a direct link to founder Christopher Locke, who’s been the driving force behind social successes including Smurfs’ Village and Zombie Café. Likewise, Locke served as external producer on the hit title ‘Lil Pirates.

“I am excited to collaborate with Glu on their upcoming titles,” said Locke in a statement. “Glu has asserted themselves as innovators in high-quality, freemium gaming and a leading contributor to the iOS and Android ecosystem. Blammo Games collaboration with Glu will undoubtedly produce unique, captivating gaming experiences for consumers.”

The partnership will see Glu on the publisher seat for the next two upcoming Blammo Games titles, with a projected timeline of 12 months. Both offerings are expected to integrate Glu’s technology and tools, ultimately resulting in further market penetration of the Glu Games Network. Sweetening the deal, Glu has the option on the table to renew the agreement for any sequels that may develop from these initial offerings, as well as the option to purchase a 25 percent stake in Blammo.

“We are pleased to establish a long-term publishing relationship with Mr. Locke and his new studio, Blammo Games,” saidNiccolo De Masi, CEO of Glu in a statement. “Glu and Blammo Games share a keen focus on bringing high-quality mobile titles to market and we look forward to leveraging Mr. Locke’s unique talents to produce dynamic and enduring mobile gaming franchises for Glu gamers.”


Popcap, now at home in SFO, Booyah brings aboard Jason Willig

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Now that the Royal Wedding has come and gone, we can all collectively turn our attention back to the gaming at hand.  And while Obama’s birth certificate, and the demise of Bin Laden are sure to make headlines for the next foreseeable future, two gaming industry significant events took place over the weekend, both centered around the great City by the Bay; PopCap acquires ZipZapPlay, and Booyah has recently appointed Jason Willig to drive forthcoming social and mobile initiatives.


Announced on Friday, Seattle based PopCap Games has acquired SFO based ZipZapPlay.  This acquisition further fuels PopCap’s depth of Facebook games, as well as provides PopCap with a Silicon Valley address, practically a pre-requirement by today’s industry standards.

CEO Curt Bereton and CCO Mathilde Pignol are expected to stay on and continue to drive game design and development.  Likewise, all seventeen original employees will stay on, and presumably become members of a founding team, as PopCap’s expansion of ZipZapPlay’s studios is inevitable.

“The team at ZipZapPlay is one of the best in the social games space, and combined with our existing group in Seattle gives us the opportunity to dramatically expand our development resources,” said John Vechey, PopCap co-founder and VP of Corporate Strategy and Development, in a statement. “While the acquisition creates immediate cross-promotional and operations benefits, this is a strategic move with huge long-term potential; we believe ZipZapPlay can help us further evolve and expand the definition of social games.”

Looking forward, PopCap expects to have four or five Facebook titles by the close of 2011.  Their initial offerings, Bejeweled Blitz and Zuma Blitz are already attracting close to five million DAU’s, thus placing them in third position behind Zynga and Electronic Arts in terms over largest overall Facebook games developers.


And speaking of Electronic Arts…while EA’s brain drain is now a common story, it looks like the Redwood City, CA firm has lost another executive.  This time to social, web, and mobile entertainment producers Booyah Jason Willig has recently been appointed to the role of Chief Operating Officer, where he’s expected to drive the company’s expansion initiatives.

“Adding Jason to the Booyah executive team is a huge win for us,” said Keith Lee, CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “His depth of knowledge and experience will help accelerate Booyah’s continued growth and development within in the social/mobile industry.”

Willig arrives at Booyah with over a decade of interactive entertainment industry expertise.  At EA, he oversaw the operating activities and strategic initiatives with the Hasbro unit.  Willig has also been counted amongst the LucasArts, Gas Powered Games, and Vivendi Games rosters, and has a depth of experience in product development, retail and digital publishing, business development, and analytics.


Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 smashes franchises’ first week sales history

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

EA has recently announced that the newest installment of the long-running Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise has shattered all previous first week sales records. Spearheaded by the long awaited arrival of The Masters course in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, EA’s internal estimates place the title at 225,000 units sold. This figure places 12 firmly atop the pile, exceeding the previous record held by PGA Tour 8 in 2007, by a healthy 17 percent. Looking at the long range picture, EA is reporting the year-over-year, week one console digital revenues for the franchise have increased by a massive 200 percent. Keep in mind, when EA talks about the Tiger Woods franchise, they’re also including properties under the Woods’ umbrella, including the iPhone and iPad offerings. Adding to the “winning” at the EA/Tiger Woods camp, the company also points to strong iTunes sales, with the aforementioned iOS apps garnering the #1 top grossing sports game app position the day it launched and throughout the remainder of that week. Oddly enough, the iOS versions of the title do not include the hallmark Masters Tournament or the Augusta National Golf Club.

“We expected fans to be excited about the Masters and for sales to be up significantly. We’re pleased that they are,” said Peter Moore, President of EA SPORTS in a statement. “Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters has earned rave reviews, and fans have played nearly two million rounds at Augusta National Golf Club during the first two weeks.”

And this newest installment of the Tiger Woods series is worthy of the praise. First and foremost, both real-world and non golfers have been clamoring for an authentic replication of arguably, the world’s most famous golf course since the inception of video game golf. Thanks to remarkable advancements in technology, Augusta, GA’s classic has been fully laser scanned, and it accurate down to six millimeters. External media have taken note, with commenting, “each hole is rendered perfectly down to the last azalea and the course plays as tough as it looks on TV.” The all-things-sports publication gave Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters a 9.5 out of 10 rating. Likewise, Golfweek ads, “the attention to details and the new features make it tough to imagine it can get much better than here,” and provided a rating of 9 out of 10.

In addition to the ultra-realism of The Masters course, both long-time and new comers to the game are treated to an (almost) completely revamped method of play. The games’ Career Mode and all new Caddie system still have that new-car smell, and an all new broadcast system are sure to delight. Fans can challenge more than 20 professional golfers, including new additions Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and Bubba Watson.

By the numbers, EA is reporting that since it’s March 29th launch, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 has racked up over 7 million games played on all courses, with over 184 million golf shots taken. These drives, pitches, and puts have resulted in 1.5 million achievements and trophies unlocked and 12 million course mastery objectives completed. From the online world, the title has garnered the equivalent of 2,515 PGA Tour seasons in online tournaments.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters is available for $59.99 for Xbox and PlayStation3, $49.99 for Wii, and $69.99 for the PS3 exclusive Collector’s Edition. For some Tiger on the go, fans can find a $4.99 iPhone and $9.99 iPad version of the latest installment available via iTunes, as well as a free version available for iPhone and iPod Touch. This free version allows players full functionality when combined with the “Closest to the Pin” Facebook Challenge.


Pocket Gems on the move; scores Playdom’s Ben Liu, approaches 30 Million downloads

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Free-to-play mobile games maker Pocket Gems has recently surpassed 28 million downloads across their product lineup and are gearing up for a banner year. The company’s flagship title, Tap Zoo, has spent 27 of the last 31 weeks in Apple’s top 10 grossing app chart, and the company is rapidly preparing for their move to an all new corporate headquarters in The City by The Bay.

Adding to the excitement and success, Pocket Gems has also recently acquired the services of Ben Liu in the role of Chief Operating Officer. Liu arrives fresh from Playdom where he directed the largest studio in Playdom’s holdings as executive producer of top social games including the City of Wonder franchise. Liu has been tasked with directing and guiding the company as it evolves from start up to established games maker.

Adding to the unspoken seal of “You’ve Arrived,” Liu will be joined by former EA art director Jeff Hunter, former Senior Producer at Playdom Niels Hoven, and former Pogo Studio Director, Creative Director Rich Cooluris. Supporting this new group of talent, Pocket Gems has announced that they’ll also be bringing more then 20 new development staff on board.

“We are thrilled about all the top talent joining our team,” Daniel Terry, CEO, Pocket Gems, said in a statement. “As we grow our company we are dedicated to keeping our focus on handcrafting and operating the best mobile games to continue to deliver amazing experiences for our customers.”

You’ll remember that back in December of last year, Pocket Gems landed a cool $5 million from Sequoia Capital, also adding Jim Goetz to the board. Other investors included Michael Dearing, former eBay veteran and Associate Professor at the Stanford University Institute of Design, Jeff Fluhr, co-founder and former CEO of StubHub, and Omar Harmoui, founder of AdMob. It would appear that the Pocket Gem investment is starting to bear fruit, as the company’s offerings are closing in on the 30 million downloads mark, and clearly the firm is headed in the right direction with these notable talent acquisitions. Now that the company joins the ranks of giants in location, let’s see what these former giant vets can turn out for our amusement (and wallets).

“COMEDY CENTRAL and Spike TV squarely target the video game audience. Our ‘Deadliest Warrior’ gaming franchise exploded out of the gate last season,” said Yang in a statement. “With the launch of 345 Games, we are tapping into the passionate fan base of both COMEDY CENTRAL and Spike and creating an enhanced interactive experience based on our hit shows and brands.”

345 Games is a new creation from MTV Networks, although the division isn’t fully independent. The gaming arm will work closely with the Networks’ existing talent as well as supported by existing Marketing departments and channels. 345 Games plans to reach out to independent developers who are interested in producing content for the COMEDY CENTRAL and Spike brands.

As for first offerings, from the Spike TV side of things, 345 Games will build upon the existing traction developed by “Deadliest Warrior: The Game,” “Deadliest Warrior: Legends,” seeks to take the franchise in a different direction, as the new title will ditch the weapons and armor, and pits gamers against some of the deadliest warriors across the span of time. The game will feature new heroic warriors, fighting options, a more precise projectile system, more arenas, and a new campaign mode. In other words…better everything. Players will be armed with Deadliest Warrior signature weapons and combat skills are unique to each character played. “Deadliest Warrior: Legends,” is slated to be available for Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network for $10.

From the COMEDY CENTRAL side of things, 345 Games will be launching “Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon,” in conjunction with the season two launch of the animated series of the same name. The four player side scroller will capitalize on the horror-comedy series appeal, and feature an exclusive script authored by the shows writers and creators. Adding to the exclusivity, the game will feature a new character unique to the game, and feature voiceovers provided by the original cast. Similar to Deadliest Warrior, “Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon” will be available for Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network for $10.


EA and Hasbro going for Guinness World Record attempt with MONOPOLY Millionaires on Facebook

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

In a joint venture, Electronic Arts and Hasbro have announced today, April 7th, as Global MONOPOLY Day on Facebook. The promotion includes more than $20,000 in real world prizes up for grabs, as well as a Guinness World Record attempt. This Guinness World Record attempt will measure the greatest number of people simultaneously playing MONOPOLY Millionaires concurrently on Facebook. As this record is clearly in a class of it’s own, any guesses on whether they’ll accomplish the task?

“With MONOPOLY Millionaires, EA and Hasbro have brought the beloved family board game to a growing audience of tens of millions of people on Facebook,” said Katie Mitic, Director of Platform and Mobile Marketing, Facebook in a statement. “We’re excitedly anticipating the record to be set on Facebook as people share the whole experience with their friends.” Again, in a class of it’s own … not too difficult.

But ok, ok, enough with the fat, let’s get to the meat. Cold hard cash. Of sorts. In addition to the fluff, EA is handing out $20,580 in prizes. If this number rings a bell (Alex, I’ll take Monopoly economy, for $100), it’s the same number of cash in the board game version of MONOPOLY. Of the $20k, $5,000 is heading out in the form of greenbacks, $5,000 in Visa gift cards, a variety of Apple products, and “others”.

On April 6th, EA put out a special deal on their MONOPOLY Streets game via, presumably warming up interest in the classic boardgame. Bookending the program, EA will offer a sale on MONOPOLY games for iPad, Kindle, and a wide variety of other mobile devices. Additionally, EA is leveraging the power of to publicize and promote the participation in the global event.

You’ll remember that MONOPOLY Millionaires is the very first incantation of the brand as a free-to-play title. During the weeks of March 7 and March 14, MONOPOLY Millionaires was the fast growing games title on Facebook, and have an increase of 472% in player numbers between March 1st and April 1st.

“The popularity of MONOPOLY Millionaires underscores the massive appeal and connection that the brand holds with consumers worldwide,” said Jane Ritson-Parsons, Global Brand Leader for MONOPOLY at Hasbro in a statement. “Social gaming platforms such as Facebook have significantly broadened the MONOPOLY playing universe and events such as Global MONOPOLY Day celebrate the rich heritage and exciting future of a branded play experience that has been entertaining families for nearly eight decades.”


EA “Passes Go” with free-to-play Monopoly on Facebook

Monday, March 21st, 2011

EA has recently announced the launch of the timeless classic, Monopoly, now in a free-to-play format on Facebook. Titled Monopoly Millionaires, this version of Monopoly is the first free-to-play appearance in the franchises’ history. As with many, if not all, free-to-play social games, Monopoly Millionaires offers participants the opportunity to face off against their friends and family wherever they may be. Naturally, Monopoly is offered under a license from Hasbro.

“EA has enjoyed a very successful relationship with Hasbro over the last three years and we’re excited to introduce the beloved MONOPOLY brand to the Facebook community,” says Chip Lange, senior vice president and general manager of the Hasbro Division at Electronic Arts. “We strive to continually re-imagine Hasbro brands digitally in creative ways and MONOPOLY Millionaires is no exception. We’re bringing the world’s favorite game brand into the new era of social gaming, offering an accessible and enjoyable experience for Facebook users worldwide.”

According to EA, Monopoly Millionaires is an entirely new way of looking at Monopoly, particularly in the digital realm. A long time Monopoly digital developer, EA builds on this expertise to present a unique integration of social gameplay features. Their goal is nothing short of revolutionizing the way social games are played on Facebook.

“MONOPOLY has always been a social game that’s made better by the friends you play with,” said Katie Mitic, director of platform and mobile marketing at Facebook. “With MONOPOLY Millionaires, EA and Hasbro are bringing this global game brand to a growing online audience of people who play games with their friends on Facebook. MONOPOLY is a great example of the legacy that can be created when games are built to be social from day one.”

And while EA is out to, literally, change the game, fans of the classic will find themselves immediately within familiar surroundings. The classic Monopoly board is present, as are the traditional methods of building house and hotels, and die rolling to move game pieces. However, this is where the traditional gameplay ends, as EA has specifically designed the game to encourage players to interact with, and play against their friends. The mechanic is based on a familiar theme, the more players you play against, the more boards you have to visit, the greater your chances of success. If this sounds familiar, think about the way(s) Zynga encourages players to interact with each other…ultimately contributing to the “stickiness” factor. Even though players are encouraged to accumulate mass numbers, EA is still incorporating speed and quick-in-quick-out play, as players may roll the dice consecutively, and not have to wait for friends to finish their turns.

Monetization of this free-to-play classic arrives via game board customizations, allowing players to decorate their play surface. Presumably, EA will roll out additional customizations, i.e. for purchase game pieces, etc.
“MONOPOLY has entertained millions of families around the globe for decades,” said Mark Blecher, senior vice president and general manager of digital gaming and media at Hasbro. “With this first time addition of a social gaming version for Facebook, it’s great to know there will always be a friend or family member who’ll be ready to roll the dice any time of the day or night to experience the fun of MONOPOLY Millionaires.”


Epic Games and EA pave the way for Bulletstorm

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Epic Games, Warsaw based People Can Fly (an Epic Games studio), and EA have recently announced that the demo for their anticipated action shooter, Bulletstorm will soon be available. Beginning January 25th, the makers of Gears of War and Unreal will unleash a world of guns, action, and attitude, in a title Entertainment Weekly describes as, “an intense, outrageous shooter.”

A unique shooter in it’s own right, Bulletstorm features three game modes; sci-fi themed, single-player campaigns, all-hell-breaks-loose Anarchy multiplayer mode, and Echo mode. Options one and two, we’re all very familiar with, but Echo mode provides a unique experience that tracks and compares players’ scores while they make their way through various campaign modes. Think of it as “Ghosting” within racing games, whereby your performance is measured against previous players’ top stores. The upcoming Bulletstorm demo features a view of Echo mode, whereby players navigate through a collapsed building on the planet Stygia as Ex-Dead Echo leader Garyson Hunt.

Bulletstorm features a “skillshot” system, as players utilize futuristic assault rifles, known as the Peace Maker Carbine, as well as a damage doing Flail Gun, which fires two, chain linked grenades at the target. If handguns are more your style, Bulletstorm serves up the Screamer, a revolver that converts targets from living matter into fireworks.

As New York Times journalist Seth Schiesel puts it, “the name should say it all; big guns, lots of lead and over-the-top mayhem.”

The Bulletstorm demo will be available for download on January 25th to all North American XBOX LIVE and PlayStation owners, with European players joining the party on the 26th. The Bulletstorm Epic Edition will be available for Xbox 360 gamers, and will include an early access pass to the Gears of War 3 beta, as well as feature additional in-game bonus content. PS3 owners will have the opportunity to purchase the Bulletstorm Limited Edition title, also featuring bonus in-game content. A full release of Epic Games/People Can Fly/EA’s Bulletstorm is expected to drop on February 22nd in North America and February 25th in Europe.


Playfish/EA exec Xavier Louis headed to MXP4

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Adding another feather in the long-running, “Where is all the talent going?” cap over at EA, former Playfish executive Xavier Louis will be joining the MXP4 team in the role of Vice President of Product Marketing. With Playfish, he served as Product Marketing Director. With MXP4, Louis is expected to drive adoption of and monetization of the company’s interactive social-music gaming technology.

“We are elated to have an industry expert like Xavier join MXP4,” commented Albin Serviant, CEO of MXP4. “With his extensive social gaming experience, he is an obvious choice to spearhead the continued development of our interactive music games.”

If you’re not already familiar with MXP4’s program, they’re turning music into casual games. The goal is to pull passive music listeners (i.e., all of us) and convert them into active users who are inclined to share (read: distribute) their music preferences, and ultimately make more music purchases. Through this mechanism MXP4 offers value to both artists and marketers, all the while, providing a fun and engaging experience for end users. You might remember the company’s beta launch, featuring PUMP IT!, a Facebook game revolving around hit artist David Guetta’s single “Who’s that Chick.” The title garnered over half a million visits to the application, with users playing the game for more than 15 minutes per track. Of these 500,000 or so users, 50 percent of them ended up sharing this music and competing against social network friends, with some users player more than 500 times in a chance to win a meet-n-greet with Guetta himself.

“I am looking forward to applying my years of experience in social gaming to help forge the future of the nascent ‘social music gaming’ genre,” commented Xavier Louis. “MXP4’s mission is truly unique, and I am excited to join such a visionary team.”

Since the arrival and death of music based games, i.e. Guitar Hero, we’ve yet to see a hard look at games and music, and how they can be capitalized upon in the massive social gaming market. It appears as though MXP4 is staring straight down the barrel of this loaded gun, and taking aim. The tech looks good, and I’d wager with a few more key promotions such as the Guetta deal, MXP4 could be the breakout story of 2011. Let’s see if Louis can work his former Playfish magic with MXP4. If so…hold on to your hats, as there’s a lot of tunes-based play ahead.


EA and Funcom to jointly publish The Secret World

Monday, January 10th, 2011

EA and Funcom have recently announced a co-publishing deal surrounding the anticipated MMO The Secret World. Neither company needs an introduction, and the combined forces of these two gaming powerhouses is sure to hold to new surprises for gamers. Funcom is reporting that thousands of eager gamers have flocked to the growing community surrounding the game’s launch, with many already becoming active members of the game’s three distinct secret societies: The Illuminati, The Dragon, and The Templar.

“We are tremendously excited to be working with what is undoubtedly the world-leading games publisher for the past decade, and it is also a great testament to the fantastic work of our development team,” says Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas in a statement. “The experience and the knowledge that Electronic Arts brings to the table will be instrumental in allowing us to realize the full potential of ‘The Secret World’.”

If you’ve not already familiarized yourself with The Secret World, the game is billed as a “next-generation” MMO that allows players complete and total freedom to advance their in-game characters. Previous MMO standards such as character class and level no longer apply; the game’s wide open. Players pledge their allegiance to one of three secret societies (hence, The Secret World), and battle for world domination via various landmark locations around the globe. And it’s not the fantasy world of planet XYZ, The Secret World is based on our own modern world, with players adventuring through Egypt, New England (home of Dan Brown), London, New York, and Seoul.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Funcom, one of the world-leaders in the development of massively multiplayer online games,” adds David DeMartini, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EA Partners. “We are very excited to be able to take part in the growing online gaming category with such a highly anticipated title as ‘The Secret World’.”

The way I see it, this is a win-win for both Funcom and EA. EA, who’s man-at-the-helm John Riccitiello has been driving down boxed unit sales in favor of digital distribution, now has an MMO to add to the EA distribution list, and Funcom, who’ve had their own issues in the past concerning MMO success, now has the backing and partnership of one of the oldest and most respected brands in the industry. While no release date, or format, has been given, my guess is that Funcom will leverage EA’s distribution channels, with EA gaining an anticipated, and how quality MMO to call it’s own (of sorts). And while The Secret World has been in development for some time now, this publishing partnership with EA is certainly a sign that the development phase is drawing to a close, and that we can most probably expect the arrival of The Secret World sometime in 2011.