EA Puts Pogo, Its Casual Game Portal, on iOS

Since 2001, Electronic Arts has quietly operated a site that few in its core gaming audience know about called Pogo.com. It has only recently started moving the property onto other platforms, starting with Facebook this April and now moving on to the iPhone and iPad.

Pogo’s new iDevice app will look like a limited version of its destination site, with just five games to start — one of those being Poppit, which EA got press for yesterday when it released an HTML5 version for the Chrome Web Store. Other titles include word and card games.

Like other companies, Pogo is hoping that its audience (about 10 million monthly unique visitors to its web site, and about 900,000 monthly active users on Facebook) will adopt as many platforms as it rolls out, playing the games wherever they go.

There are some differences between the platforms, though. Some are technical, like the ability to use the iPhone’s accelerometer for Poppit. The more important differences may be the social mechanics, though.

On Pogo.com, users play with others that they don’t know, which creates more of a cooperative environment. Facebook creates competition between friends, while mobile will offer some combination. Like Facebook, mobile will also tend toward asynchronous play, since users will just want to slip into games for a few minutes at a time.

Going cross-platform with a property like Pogo may be a no-brainer these days, with Facebook going strong and mobile devices proliferating. “Overwhelmingly people wanted it, even if they don’t have an iPhone. Just given the amount of iPhone and iPods out there, we hope to have even more people who aren’t familiar with Pogo download it,” says Michael Marchetti, Pogo’s general manager.

But Pogo is also an aging site. Its Facebook portal has over a dozen competitors, and there are many more casual apps vying for space on the various iDevices. To succeed, Pogo will have to get its cross-platform distribution strategy just right, with few role models to steer by.