As part of a massive management reorganization months ago, game publisher Electronic Arts created a division to focus solely on a class of games that fit into a category called “casual gaming.” The classification is meant to include games, whether console, mobile or PC in origin, that are widely accessible, do not have a steep learning curve and can be played incrementally in small blocks of time.
Kathy Vrabel, the former president of Activision was hired to run the division. Today, her Casual Gaming Division at Electronic Arts announced their first major deal. EA and traditional game/toy maker Hasbro have signed an exclusive multi-year licensing deal.
EA will gain the rights to be sole publisher of video games based on many (but not all) of Hasbro’s gaming catalog which includes iconic titles like Monopoly, Scrabble, and even Yahtzee. Rights for many of the games had been held by Atari under a seven year deal they had signed in 2005. Last month Hasbro and Atari struck a deal in which Hasbro bought out the agreement for more than $19m. Hasbro toy properties that are the result of other licensing deals (like the Transformers) are not included.
In a statement, Kathy Vrabel said “The gaming market has never been more primed for a revolution in how families enjoy games. Hasbro is the ideal partner to help propel this change. Their games define fun. These are games that we all love and remember from our childhoods.”
No financial terms were released but it’s safe to assume that EA paid some upfront licensing fee and there will be a royalty or revenue sharing relationship associated with games that are developed from the deal. With Hasbro gaining merchandising rights for the creation of toys inspired, or derived from, EA’s games, any royalty structure will be bi-directional.
The first games from the partnership will launch in 2008.