EA Adds Social Game Studio For Hardcore Players With KlickNation Acquisition

Electronic Arts has bought social game developer KlickNation, and is turning it into a studio within BioWare, its role-playing developer division. The move is a relatively inexpensive way for EA to build up Facebook versions of its hits like Mass Effect and titles for hardcore gamers using its extensive IP line. The acquisition price wasn’t announced, but it cost $35 million, a source tells Inside Social Games.

KlickNation was one of the earlier companies to specialize in social RPGs. These types of games haven’t gotten the big usage numbers that simulations like FarmVille have, but their users tend to spend heavily on virtual goods. The developer’s traffic never got too big, however, and all of its titles have been in decline for months. Today it has nearly 400,000 monthly active users and 50,000 daily active users, according to AppData, falling from one-time highs of 1.3 million and 150,000 respectively. It’s top titles today are Age of Champions and Superhero City.

It took a couple years, but EA is getting results from having bought its way into social gaming. It has specifically started to hit its original goal of building successful social versions of existing IP, with The Sims Social being the biggest success to date. It bought Playfish in November of 2009 in a deal worth up to $400 million, then added a range of other companies including Chillingo, Firemint and PopCap — its biggest acquisition to date, at the price of $750 million. The result is higher and higher revenues from its digital goods category, projecting it to bring in $1 billion a year as of its most recent earnings.

KlickNation’s role will be helping trying to get Sims Social levels of success out of more EA IP. “We share the same creative values. The new BioWare Social unit will bring BioWare and EA franchises to the growing audience of core gamers who are looking for high quality, rich gameplay experiences on social platforms,” Dr. Ray Muzyka, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EA’s BioWare label, says in the press release on the sale. KlickNation will form a new Sacramento studio, be formed into a new business unit together with BioWare San Francisco that will be called BioWare Social. KlickNation chief executive Mark Otero will be the general manager of the combined entities.