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Activision to work with independent developers on mobile games

June 13, 2012|By Ben Fritz
  • Activision is launching a new mobile initiative to work with independent developers
Activision is launching a new mobile initiative to work with independent… (Kevork Djansezian )

Activision Blizzard Inc. is jumping into the fast-growing mobile market by offering itself as a partner to independent game developers.

The Santa Monica company best known for focusing on a small number of lucrative franchises such as "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft" has traditionally been more conservative than competitors such as Electronic Arts Inc. about making games for smartphones. Though revenue from games on devices including the iPhone has grown fast, it's still small compared to traditional consoles.

But Activision has decided to make a splash by partnering with mobile analytics company Flurry to offer a publishing service to independent developers. Those selected will get assistance with technology, financing and marketing and see their games published under the "Activision Mobile" label.

"This will allow us to scale really quickly in the mobile space," said Coddy Johnson, chief operating officer of Activision's worldwide studios.

In exchange for services that they expect to significantly boost a game's chances in the crowded market for games on iPhones and Android phones, Activision and Flurry will take a cut of sales revenue. Flurry Chief Executive Simon Khalaf declined to say how much that would be, but said the developers would keep "the lion's share."

Activision has previously made several mobile games related to "Call of Duty" and its "Crash Bandicoot" and "Sklyanders" brands. Johnson said the company has a "fairly decent history" of making its own mobile games.

Unlike most games published by Activision for consoles, the publishing giant will allow independent developers who work with its new mobile program to retain ownership of their intellectual property.

Activision and Flurry will vet proposals from developers for ideas and talent that the companies believe will be most successful. Khalaf said he hopes many of the games that result from the new partnership will be what he called "mid core" -- more sophisticated than casual titles like "Bejeweled" but not as complex as $60 console games like "Halo."

The strategy is very different than that of competitor EA, which has made more than 100 mobile games itself, some based on its own console properties including "The Sims" and "Madden NFL" and others on brands it has licensed such as "Risk" and "The Simpsons." Many are produced at an EA studio in Playa Vista.

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