May 11, 2022 - Technology

EA, Activision, Ubisoft bet big on mobile games

Photo of a cell phone and the logo for Electronic Arts
Photo Illustration: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Electronic Arts is planning “three big launches” of mobile games this year, CEO Andrew Wilson has told investors.

Why it matters: After years of plans and hints, some of the biggest franchises in console and PC gaming are coming to phones this year.

The details: EA’s slate includes a mobile version of its runaway battle royale hit Apex Legends, a Lord of the Rings game made by a studio behind a top Star Wars mobile title and Tap Sports Baseball 22.

  • Waiting in the wings is a mobile version of EA’s Call of Duty rival Battlefield, which Wilson said yesterday could sneak out by the end of next March, if it tests well enough.

Not just EA: Activision Blizzard has a Diablo game coming to mobile in June and a Warcraft mobile game for later in the year.

  • Ubisoft management emphasized to investors today that it “​​plans to grow our biggest franchises” with “four promising mobile games under development.” It has mobile games tied to Rainbow Six Siege and The Division deep in development.

Between the lines: Mobile gaming is a vast market of more than 3 billion players but that doesn’t mean franchises that have been huge on PC or console will automatically thrive.

  • Mobile has its own mammoths, like Playrix’s Homescapes and Zynga’s Hair Challenge.
  • Traditional publishers have literally bought into this in the last several years, paying billions for the makers of so-called casual mobile hits.
  • Activision bought Candy Crush maker King in 2016, EA grabbed Playdemic and Glu, and Take-Two now prepares to gollop Zynga. All acquired companies made huge so-called casual mobile hits.
  • Those big publishers are now bringing their own traditional franchises over too with increased intensity, and the confidence that modern phones can create experiences that console and PC players won’t sneer at.

All the big players haven’t figured it out.

The bottom line: The phone is the biggest platform for gaming worldwide, and everyone’s drawn into its gravitational pull.

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