EA opens Singapore office


SINGAPORE -- Entertainment software giant Electronic Arts has teamed with Singapore online entertainment company IAHGames to roll out soccer game "EA Sports FIFA Online 2" in 10 Asia-Pacific countries, the companies said Friday.

The game will launch in Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in the third quarter of 2008. No timetable was released for the other seven countries and territories in the region: Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

The deal with IAHGames, which is backed by the Singapore government's InfoComm Development Authority, follows EA's online partnerships in South Korea with Neowiz Games, GigaMedia in Taiwan (for "NBA Street Online" and "Warhammer Online"), and a minority investment in The9 in China.

The launch of the new football title is part of broad expansion plans in Asia this year across the EA's four business units, including the rollout of the seven-month-old casual games label across the region.

"Casual games in Asia are nowhere near where it needs to be," Kathy Vrabeck, Los Angeles-based president of EA Casual Entertainment, said in Singapore.

Asia's total games market is estimated to be worth $6 billion-$8 billion, according to EA Asia president Jon Niermann.

IAHGames CEO Roland Ong said that Southeast Asia has more than 20 million online gamers.

While Vrabeck declined to disclose details, she indicated that mergers and acquisitions were part of the growth strategy for casual games in Asia.

EA's casual games ambitions in Asia include developing a kids' games business, Russell Arons, the company's casual entertainment marketing vp, said at the briefing in Singapore.

Asia will be included in the summer 2008 rollout of "Boom Bloxx," the Wii game EA announced in February in partnership with Steven Spielberg.

The new Singapore headquarters also will push out a more aggressive mobile strategy, including companion products that sit between mobile and online.