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EA Continues Galactic Shift With Star Wars Launch

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Electronic Arts (ERTS) released its massively multi-player online game (MMOG) Star Wars: The Old Republic on Tuesday. The game is part of an initiative to transform the company and grow its digital strategy, according to the president of Electronic Arts' Games Label, Frank Gibeau.

In a phone interview, Gibeau said the release of the game is just part of a venture to turn EA around and make it more of an online services company. The shift comes at a time that sees consumers spending less on traditional boxed video games and is also an attempt to keep up with more entrenched competitors like Activision (ATVI).

Gibeau also cited his company's acquisition of PopCap Games as another example of EA's shift. PopCap, which makes online games for mobile devices, is known for titles such as Plants vs. Zombies and the Bejeweled series.

Star Wars: The Old Republic was released wide today.

Gibeau said that Star Wars is "our most ambitious project ever," though he declined to give a specific development cost on the game.

In speaking about the game itself, he said the game is not a "make or break" project for EA, and the company is very excited about it. The game, currently only available on PCs, costs $60, which falls inline with other high-end premium games. Gibeau said EA has no announcements at this time regarding whether the game would eventually be available on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

He also noted that although the game is being released late into the holiday season, the week from Christmas to New Years is "an incredible time for MMOG." Those who pre-ordered the game were allowed early access to it on December 16.

Shares of Electronic Arts were up 2.7% to $20.38 in Tuesday afternoon trading.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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