Firemint acquires Infinite Interactive

News: 

Games studio Firemint today announced that it has acquired fellow Australian studio, Infinite Interactive. The move further boosts Firemint’s strength in designing and developing original games, while providing the Infinite Interactive team with a channel for independent publishing.

Firemint was founded by Rob Murray in 1999. It became a highly regarded work-for-hire mobile games studio before shooting to fame with iPhone hits “Flight Control” and “Real Racing” in 2009. Firemint has recently expanded to additional platforms including Nintendo DSiWare, Sony PlayStation Network, and Steam (PC and Mac). The studio now works exclusively on self-published original games.

Infinite Interactive was founded by Steve Fawkner in 1989, and is best known for the “Warlords” and “Puzzle Quest” series of games, both designed by Fawkner. Fawkner is one of the games industry’s pre-eminent innovators, and has created more than 30 games in a career spanning more than 25 years. He takes on a product management position at Firemint, and will continue to work with his current team on a game already under development.

Murray said “I’m incredibly pleased to welcome Steve and his team to Firemint. Steve is an outstanding game designer and our two studios evolved very similar philosophies of developing addictive, fun and polished original games. By bringing our studios’ talents together, we will be able to create even more awesome games – and more of them.”

Fawkner commented, “Firemint has had huge success designing, developing and publishing great original games. By joining forces, we now have a way to further develop some of the exciting new concepts we’ve been working on. This new position really frees me up to focus on game design and I can’t wait to get stuck into it!”

Murray and Fawkner first met in 2003 and in early 2006, Fawkner showed Murray an early version of Puzzle Quest, which he had prototyped over his Christmas holiday. Murray explained, “Steve and I have been talking about working together for a long time, and I remember him showing me an early version of Puzzle Quest. This inspired me to make a game during my own holidays two years later, which was Flight Control – and now, another two years later, we’ve finally found a way to work together!”

Both studios are based in Melbourne, and will be consolidated in one location at Firemint’s recently expanded offices. All games developed by the studio will be released under the Firemint name. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

About Firemint

Firemint creates fun, addictive games. Founded in 1999 by CEO Robert Murray, Firemint is located in Melbourne, Australia’s games development hub, and employs 60 people. Firemint is the only developer to have been awarded Apple Design Awards for two different apps in one year, for Real Racing on iPhone and Flight Control HD on iPad (2010). Firemint’s accolades also include the Independent Games Festival Mobile award for Technical Achievement, International Mobile Gaming Award for Excellence in Connectivity, Pocket Gamer Best iPhone Developer, IGN’s Best of E3 Award and IGN Editor’s Choice Award.

Comments

souri's picture

Just a bit of curiosity, does anyone know if Infinite Interactive retained the rights / ip of Puzzle Quest, or was that handed over to D3 (and later Namco Bandai) as part of the initial publisher agreement? D3 had the publishing rights to Puzzle Quest, and when they were bought out by Namco Bandai, Namco took over the rights to distribute Puzzle Quest 2, didn't they? Did these publishers take over the duty of doing all the ports?

It's certainly an interesting alliance of two well known Melbourne games studios, and as the graphic art from Firemint suggests, there's great potential for some really interesting types of games to come out of this.

What is interesting is the differing paths that both these studios took. Firemint started off primarily doing work-for-hire licensed games dev in the handset space (of which they really excelled at) and fortunately with the monumental success of their own original ip, Flight Control, Firemint have been able to move on from work-for-hire dependency and into self publishing their own games from 2009. Had they stayed as hired guns and doing licensed handset games for the likes of EA, it's a possibility that they could have been left in a position for acquisition like IronMonkey Studios.

The rewards of self publishing for Firemint are obvious, and it was extremely timely too since the bottom fell out for work-for-hire around the time Flight Control was released.

Infinite Interactive leapt right off the bat with Puzzle Quest which was an awesome and original idea that garnered a whole lot of critical acclaim. Infinite did what was common then and shopped the game around to find a publisher to fund and distribute the title, and as publishing deals like these usually go, the ip is handed over. This was in 2007, well before the Appstore and the self-publishing phenomenon, and the target platform was initially the DS and PSP.

Of course, I'm talking hypotheticals here, but one wonders where Infinite Interactive could have taken the Puzzle Quest ip themselves if they had the opportunity to self published years later on the appstore the way Firemint did with Flight Control, and follow through with the porting / outsourcing onto the myriad of other platforms out there. I'm sure following up with Galactrix and Puzzle Quest 2 would have propelled Infinite Interactive to the heights that we see Firemint and Halfbrick at. But hey, this is why this acquisition is so interesting, as it means they could do a Puzzle Quest-like game with the full support and vigor of Firemint's marketing abilities and Firemint's brand power behind it.

Anonymous's picture

Steve owned the IP of all his licenses. D3 had the first right of refusal on subsequent releases on the game.

souri's picture

That's actually really great to hear. It's a really valuable ip to have, and here's hoping they can exploit it the way Pop Cap have managed to exploit Bejewelled for $500+ million :)

Anonymous's picture

Should be interesting. I'm a big Puzzle Quest fan, and Firemint has been doing some really interesting things lately too.

I think the thing that makes me happiest about this story is that the people involved sound like they're actually excited to be working together, instead of the usual 'it's just good business sense' angle we usually get.

Anonymous's picture

When I worked at II, Steve and Rob always had a good working relationship so it was one of those matches made in heaven really. I am curious if Steve sold his IP or not, he'll no doubt license it in any case to the Firemint guys.

My only concern with it, is Steve is used to being the boss so hopefully he'll be managing his own team.