290 million are playing games on Facebook

A high-ranking EA exec has confirmed that 290 million Facebook users play casual games on the popular social network.

 “Last year we saw a drop off in games related to changes on the Facebook platform, but we are encouraged by the recent turnaround,” EA COO John Schappert explained in a statement quoted by Develop.

“We’re [definitely] seeing an increase in game traffic on Facebook and believe the site has stabilized – with a current estimate of 290 million gamers playing an average of 3.5 hours per month.”

Schappert added that EA subsidiary Playfish was Facebook’s second-biggest games publisher – even though the company remains significantly behind Zygna of FarmVille fame.

“Our leadership on mobile and smart phones taught us a great deal about how these new platforms evolve.

“[And] in 2011, you’ll see more of EA’s big franchises come to Facebook as well new, original offerings,” he said.

Schappert’s comments, made during a rather moribund earnings report, illustrates the importance EA now places on casual gaming, whether in the mobile, PC or console sphere. 

To be sure, the company hopes that casual gaming, particularly in the mobile space, can help the company reverse a recent $322 million net loss.

My take on it all?

Obviously, the financial gap can’t be closed just by mobile or casual gaming alone. 

No, EA will have to strengthen its (already) diverse portfolio across the board, including stepping up to the plate for core gamers willing to splash out cash for quality titles.