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Samsung, EA spice up revenue deals in developer-friendly program

By Malathi Nayak

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Electronic Arts Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd have teamed up to draw developers to the Korean giant's fledgling apps store, offering unusually strong financial incentives in hopes of expanding its library of games.

EA's mobile games publishing division, Chillingo, will spearhead "100% Indie," so named since Samsung will let independent developers keep 100 percent of their revenue for six months, versus the usual 30 percent cut offered by other platforms like Apple Inc.

The program, which kicks off March 4, is aimed at increasing the edgier indie fare along with more mainstream offerings like big hit "Angry Birds," which got its start as an innovative indie-developed game.

After the six months, developers give Samsung a 10 percent revenue cut and keep the rest. The slice to Samsung rises to 20 percent the following year, with the company taking 30 percent of revenue only after two years, similar to Apple Inc's App Store and Google Inc's Google Play deals.

Higher revenue-share cuts can be crucial for small outfits struggling to stay afloat. Chillingo, acquired by Electronic Arts in 2010, published and discovered popular hits like "Angry Birds," which has been downloaded over a billion times on mobile devices, and "Cut the Rope".

"So anyone who joins the program can benefit from 100 percent revenue, which is unprecedented in our industry so far," Chillingo co-founder Chris Byatte said.

Samsung has overtaken arch-rival Apple, the iPad and iPhone maker, as the world's top smartphone seller. But Apple's App Store dominates the apps market as developers say they generally earn more revenue on Apple than Android devices.

Through this partnership, Samsung and Chillingo hope to raise awareness among developers of Samsung Apps, the device maker's apps marketplace, Joe Wee, co-founder of Chillingo said.

"Samsung is selling more phones than ever and content and hardware, they always go hand in hand," said Wee.

The program is not exclusive, so developers who create new games for Samsung can simultaneously publish them on Apple and other Android devices or they can bring existing titles from other devices to Samsung phones and tablets.

While the program is called "100% Indie," Chillingo wants to attract all developers - "the established ones, the heavy-hitters to the one-man bands," Byatte said.

Top-selling games like "Angry Birds" and "Temple Run" are already available on Samsung devices, but Wee and Byatte said they are confident the initiative will attract new, high-quality game content that will spark the next big mobile game title on Samsung Apps.

(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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