It was one of the worst-kept secrets in the gaming industry -- when was Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) going to buy a mobile gaming publisher and put serious resources into launching mobile versions of its award-winning games? Some questioned who they might acquire, but never if it would purchase another company familiar with mobile formats. It was only a matter of when.

Well, the "when" turned out to be yesterday, and the target ended up being the most likely candidate -- Jamdat Mobile (NASDAQ:JMDT). Jamdat is one of the leading publishers of games and entertainment for mobile phones. The company went public back in September of 2004 and debuted at $16 per share. Electronic Arts intends to pay $27 per share for Jamdat, plus assume some stock option obligations for a total buyout of $680 million. Not a bad return for Jamdat investors.

The announcement by the companies now sets the stage for the next series of moves in the industry. Will another player -- maybe THQ (NASDAQ:THQI), Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO), or Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) -- step in with a competing bid for Jamdat? Possibly, but Activision is really the only competitor that could match a cash bid. With far less cash on hand, a bidding war would be much harder for smaller players like THQ and Take-Two to fund.

Or will some of the other notable mobile gaming players start to see more interest? That's a certainty. There are many other mobile gaming developers and publishers, such as Mforma, Digital Chocolate, and Glu Mobile, which could compliment PC and console-based gaming companies.

The announcement of EA and Jamdat's combination has marked the official beginning of the mobile gaming era. With the wireless gaming market now hitting $1 billion annually and growing rapidly, gaming on cellular phones is starting to shape up as a more significant opportunity. Even though Jamdat's revenues would only comprise roughly 2% of Electronic Arts' top line, it's about 10 times what EA earns now for its own wireless games.

Acquiring Jamdat ensures EA will stay well ahead of competitors as wireless gaming becomes a bigger part of the total entertainment market.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock still plays the original Donkey Kong. He owns no shares of companies mentioned in this article.