EA buys IronMonkey Studios

souri's picture

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Details are very slim at the moment, but from very reliable sources comes the news that publishing giant, EA, have purchased one of Australia's (and arguably, one of the the world's) top mobile / handset game development companies, Melbourne-based IronMonkey Studios.

IronMonkey Studios has a very strong relationship with EA games, having developed mobile versions of well known EA brands such as Medal of Honor, Need for Speed, and the Sims.

Two of their recently released titles, Sims 3 and Need for Speed Undercover, took out the number 1 and number 3 place in the top ten highest selling games for 2009 for the iPhone/iPod touch appstore.

EA have expressed a strategic emphasis on the digitally downloadable content and social gaming arena, purchasing social game dev company, Playfish, for $400 million dollars late last year, and consequently shedding 1,500 staff from internal development studios, which also included the closing down of Pandemic Studios.

Comments

Anonymous's picture

This is only good news.

I reckon It's good for the local industry to have a strong EA presence, and IM will literally be the jewel in EA's currently most valued indsutry (mobile/digital distribution).

It will be interesting to see what happens between IM and Visceral in the coming months. But this has secured EA's pesence in the local industry for the medium to long term IMO.

Exciting times for those both within and outside of IM.

designerwatts's picture

Additionally to this the

Additionally to this the purchase of IM and stability of a consistent flowing income may also allow IM to grow and hire more staff as required.

Interested to see where this goes.

Anonymous's picture

lol money

lol money

Anonymous's picture

EA swings with the breeze

Fingers crossed the breeze does not change. Or kiss it good bye Iron Monkey.

Anonymous's picture

RIP IronMonkey

In pre-emptive memoriam.

Anonymous's picture

+1

+1 EA have such a good reputation of keeping studios going don't they.

Anonymous's picture

-1

Unlike what we saw locally with Pandemic, It is worth noting here that IM would be what is considered to be a 'new media' nieche in which they have recently been shifing focus towards.

There would be plenty of more traditional console development studios looking at the chop well before the likes of EA mobile downscale, and then IM would be a long, long way down that list.

Things change, but it looks like IM will be safe for the medium to long term.

Anonymous's picture

Hmmm, let me think - Westwood

Hmmm, let me think
- Westwood Studios
- Pandemic Studios (Brisbane and LA)
- Bullfrog
- Origin Systems
- Maxis
- Criterion
- Black Box
- Mythic
- DICE Canada

The history doesn't look promising, glad I'm out of this industry now!

Anonymous's picture

and how many of those were

and how many of those were console developers?

If you are glad to be out of the industry then what are you doing here?

Anonymous's picture

Pandemic, Criterion and Black

Pandemic, Criterion and Black Box are very much console studios (even though Pandemic shifted to console after starting out in PC, in the end they were primarily console).

As for me, sure I'm glad to be out, but I still care about the industry and saddens me to see so many yonglings duped into "games" courses and/or get shafted in the various industry cullings.

Anonymous's picture

Yeah, that was the point i

Yeah, that was the point i was trying to make, albiet poorly.

All those studios developed for the console/PC. Or 'old' platforms. IM is a part of EA's future vision with the new downloadable hand-held content market. Even if EA were to change CEO's and therefore directon, IM will be a valuable tool in this market which they will want to keep for the forseable future.

I mean, its the only area which EA are beign abel to turn a profit in as boxed title sales are declining.

Anonymous's picture

IronMonkey make excellent

IronMonkey make excellent mobile ports of EA's top titles and their games consistently review and sell well. They have nothing to worry about. EA are buying a quality studio, simple as that.

Maybe some of the posters here have spent a little too much time out of the industry and are out of touch. EA may have a chequered past but they are doing things differently these days.

Congratulations IronMonkey Studios

Anonymous's picture

This is the most awesome news

We've had locally since... a long time ago, can't even remember the last piece of good news!

Anonymous's picture

Semantics that doesn't really

Semantics that doesn't really matter in terms of the terminology. Most "ports" (when it comes to Wii/Next Gen or Console/Mobile for example) are actually games built separately from the ground up.

Anonymous's picture

It's not really Semantics.

It's not really Semantics. Theres a massive difference between downresing art and modifying code, and creating something from scratch, including game design and some concept art, for a platform.

Take a look at the mirrors edge iphone trailer, as an example. Its the same IP, but completley new and different. If you consider that a port then you may as well call super mario galaxy a port of the original NES tltle for the wii.

Anonymous's picture

You mean when they bought

You mean when they bought Bioware who brought an unwanted child tot he relationship with them?

Theres one major point of difference right there.

Anonymous's picture

Congrats

Congratulations Iron Monkey people!

Well done on The Sims. Will keep an eye out for your future games.

Anonymous's picture

Glass houses

It's easy to put dirt on EA since Pandemic, the credit crunch and various other significant moves. There were also MANY other factors which contributed to the Pandemic closure, not just EA flipping a coin so comparing IM to Pandemic is like comparing apples and oranges.

As stated above, IM are in a different market within games and have had very recent major successes. EA is showing a move towards the casual gamer and diversifying it's portfolio. There are many Gamasutra articles discussing EA's current position as well as their intentions. If anything we're more informed about what they're up to now more than ever.

With every bust comes a boom, here's hoping this is the baby steps towards that. Best of luck to Iron Monkey, just keep keeping on :)

Anonymous's picture

Well on the plus side...

Since they're now owned by EA, when the inevitable happens at least they'll get looked after, unlike those who lost their jobs at other places in recent months.

Anonymous's picture

Maya or Max Studio

Would anybody know if Iron Monkey uses Max or Maya for their 3d content?

Anonymous's picture

Maya

Maya

Anonymous's picture

I give it 18 months...

... and they'll be gone. Why EA keep doing this is beyond me.

souri's picture

The bottom line...

I can understand why people have concerns about the purchase of IM. They're fairly legitimate, considering EA's history of buyouts and closures. There certainly have been some notable studios that have been bought and closed over the years.

The thing is, EA is a corporation, and it's all about the bottom line. It doesn't matter if you were the developer that initially started the Need for Speed series and continued the series sequel after sequel for seven iterations. If the crunch is around and trimming the fat is needed, the only thing saving your neck from the chopping block is how well your last game sold.

EA does not hold loyalties to any internal studios, and in a business sense, it makes no sense to do so. Hey, even Activision recently closed down Guitar Hero's RedOctane. Ruthless business decisions like these are probably why publishers like EA and Activision are as big as they are in the first place.

I'm not alone with the thought that IM are one of the top mobile/handset game developers in the world right now, and EA now have themselves a prime and proven studio for that space. For IM, they get job security and I'd imagine a continuous flow of work. I thought IM had the potential to go at it alone and do some incredible stuff with some original IP, but considering the current climate and the risk of betting the bank on an original title or two, it's a hard decision to make. While the takeovers in the past, such as the case of Melbourne House and Blue Tongue, were met with a huge sigh of relief, as the cash flow really helped those fledgling (at the time) studios (well, initially for the former), I think this situation is notably different in comparison. IM didn't need saving.

But I'm surprised no one has considered whether this buyout is good or bad for the Australian games industry itself. Does the lion's share from the profit of the games produced here just head overseas, or was that the case anyway since IM were mainly doing work-for-hire anyway? Should IM be happy to settle for an overseas publisher and the security that that brings, or has a studio with even *greater* potential just been lost?

Anonymous's picture

Yes you have a good

Yes you have a good point..... this is good for the industry in that it does raise the profile of a studio based over here..... but it is bad for the industry in that it leaves another studio in the hands of an overseas business.

IMO I hope that the overseas investment does continue, as the best way to improve quality is to improve competition. THQ have stuck with their 2 studios despite the rocking ship of last year, and so if EA now look to invest more in Australia as well then this means 2 of the worlds biggest publishers will have significant presence here.

Add Krome to the list as a major independant and suddenly you actually have an industry worth taking notice of.