As Sony and Microsoft look to integrate free-to-play MMOs, will Playfish set the pace?

Playfish talks of â??exploring new platformsâ??

The most successful social gaming developer in the world has revealed ambitions to explore other platforms.

Social gaming kingpin Playfish – which EA bought for $300 million in November – already has games on social utilities such as Facebook, MySpace, Google, Bebo, iPhone and Android.

Speaking of EA’s significant new investment in the company, Playfish CEO Kristian Segerstrale said that the deal “allows us to build on some of the most-loved IPs in the industry and perhaps explore other platforms quicker.”

In an interview with Develop, Segerstrale didn’t specify which platforms he wanted Playfish to work on, though its new ties with EA could guide the studio to home consoles if the right fit was found. Segerstrale did in fact add that EA would drive Playfish’s expansion.

“One of the things that we are excited about is that EA’s acquisition allows us to grow much faster, and also gives us the chance to work on franchises that we wouldn’t have before. And also, this will speed up our ambition to take our games to other platforms as well.”

Many have speculated on the arrival of free-to-play games on platforms such as the Xbox 360 and PS3. Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard previously outlined to Develop its plans to take freemium MMOs to consoles, while Undead Labs’ Jeff Strain claimed that Microsoft and Sony were both “feeling their way through” the business opportunities involved.

Nintendo’s DS or Wii could also be a new prospect for Playfish, with few companies yet plenty of chance to replicate Nintendo’s success on both online-enabled mass-market platforms.

Twitter may also be a possibility for Playfish and EA, though the nature of the microblogging site means that it can only be an integrated accompaniment to existing games, and not a ‘platform’.

Web games such as Mobster World, Spymaster and Snods claim to be ‘Twitter games’. In reality they can do little more than ask players to search for celebrities, or allow them to play as pawns in a transparent viral marketing operation. Playfish has not in the past spoke of Twitter as a key part of its plans.

Whether or not Playfish will be venturing onto home consoles, Segerstrale assured that the developer will keep to its current development strategies and product remit.

“From our perspective, what’s really exciting about the deal is that it ultimately allows us to build on everything we’ve done so far, but also speeds-up our quest to change the way the world plays games,” he said.

“The discussions we had with EA, what struck us – I think all of us at Playfish – was just how similar we both viewed the future of the industry. And we also got a big picture of how similar Playfish is to EA’s other divisions like Pogo and EA Interactive. So when deep in discussion with EA, we got the feeling that we could overlay our vision with theirs.”

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