img_0244EA has announced recently that they have started a new label to focus on casual iPhone games. Their first release is out now and we took a quick look.

This small group of apparently skinny-leg jean wearing hipsters will focus on creating a casual game per month for the iPhone. Their first release, Zombies & Me (App Info) was released this past weekend. The game is an interesting yet simple little game.

The idea if the game is that you are in the middle of a zombie invasion. You are tasked with protecting your grandmother who stays in her house and shouts one liners at you every once in a while. The government is bombing the zombies, you must guide them into the marked bomb targets. You do this by running around, past the house, and the zombies will be drawn away from the house and follow you. When they cross a bomb target, they will stay and wait to be destroyed. Zombies aren’t the smartest. The game ends when either you get hit by a bomb, or the house is destroyed.

The controls are simple — you just touch in the direction you want to go. This of course leads to the inevitable problem of you covering the screen with your hand so you can’t see what is happening on the screen. Tilt controls might have made this better, but yet more difficult.

The thing that’s really missing from their first release is any form of community. They have recently posted on their Twitter stream that they will add a global high score system to the game if enough people download the app. To me, this misses the mark.

For casual games to really stand out from the crowd, they need to be integrated with a social gaming platform from the start. I really think that EA/8 Lb. Gorilla should include a social gaming platform with all of their games. Perhaps they should integrate with one of the existing systems like OpenFeint or ngmoco:)’s Plus+ network. I really hope they don’t create their own system, there are already too many systems to really serve the needs of the consumer.

To release a casual game isolated from everything else on a communications device just doesn’t make any sense anymore. It’s an area where EA has lagged behind, really most of the large developers have lagged behind. Let’s hope that they get something ready in time for their second or third release.

In spite of the missing community features, not a bad first effort. From the things I’ve read about the group they have pretty loose reigns — it will be interesting to see what they come up with next.

More pics after the jump.
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