Electronic Arts to acquire Firemint

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Announced today, publishing giant, Electronic Arts will be acquiring leading Melbourne based mobile games developer, Firemint, for an undisclosed amount. The Flight Control and Real Racing developer will become part of Electronic Arts Interactive (EAi) once the agreement is finalised within the next four weeks.

From the announcement...

"The Firemint team is remarkable for its critical and commercial success," said Barry Cottle, Executive Vice President and General Manger of EA Interactive. "Having them as part of EAi will accelerate our position as worldwide leader in game development for mobile devices and online gaming platforms.

The acquisition of Firemint by EA comes four months after Firemint acquired fellow Melbourne games developer, Infinite Interactive. Electronic Arts had acquired another prominent mobile Melbourne games developer, IronMonkey Studios, in early 2010. IronMonkey Studios have since created critically acclaimed iOs games for EA including The Sims 3, Need For Speed: Shift, NFS: Undercover, and most recently Dead Space.

Firemint had previously worked on EA titles before their breakout Flight Control hit, including Madden NFL '07 3D, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, and The Sims DJ.

Comments

Anonymous's picture

A sad day for the staff of Firemint... Losing their best feature (independence) is sure to hurt. Here's hoping they each got a share of the reported $20-$40million (or more?).

Anonymous's picture

I'm not so sure it's a sad day. The whole deal is characterized as an acquisition of Firemints creative talent - to me this implies that they're basically being enlisted to create new IP's (business as usual as far as Firemint is concerned), as opposed to just being an iOS port farm.

Anonymous's picture

“… there are shops out there we see where the motivations align and there’s a great cultural fit,” claimed Cottle, “and Firemint was one of those for us. It brings that creative talent – and particularly, that kind of mobile-centric talent, so we can begin to develop our brands in the marketplace.”

Direct quote from EA confirming that Firemint will be used to push EA IP's in the mobile space, not to develop new IP. That's what EA calls 'creativity'

NathanRunge's picture

I think that's reading between the lines, and may or may not prove accurate. The statement from EA says, specifically:

"so we can begin to develop our brands in the marketplace"

The first thing to note is that it references brands, rather than IP. While they are often used interchangeably, they are not necessarily the same thing. Firement, for example, is now potentially an EA 'brand'. Additionally, the word 'begin' is used, which may indicate that they view Firemint's involvement as the start of a new phase or new projects, or it may not.

The statement is very simple, and doesn't necessarily indicate their intended use of the Firemint team. It may well prove to be that they do only wish to promote their existing or otherwise-sourced IP, or it may be they want to utilise Firemint's talent for exploiting the market and developing creative new titles. I think it's best to wait and see rather than switch to 'big company' panic mode.

Anonymous's picture

Your lack of actual experience with multinational publishers shows through here, and makes you sound naive. When they say brands, they definitely mean their software brands and not their developer brands. EA (and years of experience makes this crystal clear to anyone who's been directly involved with them, or vaguely follows the industry) doesn't care about developer brands and in fact does their absolute best to hide them away. They don't put developers in front of press wherever they can possibly help it, and they don't make developers figureheads for IP.

EA, like Activision, believe that development teams are interchangeable - and you can see this by the very literal changing of development teams on major IP, from COD to Burnout.

Their statement is very simple, and absolutely indicates their intended use of the Firemint team. Expect to see them working on Burnout iPad, Sims Mobile, and 400 new versions of Flight Control.

I can't think of a single EA purchased studio who've managed to release new IP developed post-acquisition. Can you? Check out how many original releases Iron Monkey has come out with since the purchase.

NathanRunge's picture

You can anonymously snipe at my experience if you wish, but the statement is most certainly not clear. You are right that Firemint is unlikely to be a 'figurehead' for IP, and as a publisher owned studio should have no expectation of being so. This, however, does not mean Firemint will cease being engaged in developing 'their' current IP, or new IP.

EA have their bottom-line in mind, and they are aware of the changing nature of the industry whether we wish to believe so or not. They will do with Firemint what they see is best. This might involve having Firemint work on existing 'brands', or developing new ones. Flight Control, for example, is now an EA 'brand'. I'm inclined to agree the likely outcome is few, if any, new IP from Firemint, but I think we should refrain from jumping on the 'doom, horror big company from OUT OF STATE' bandwagon.

Anonymous's picture

I'm someone else.

Do you honestly consider the above post to be a snip at you?

NathanRunge's picture

Only one small aspect.

For example:
"or vaguely follows the industry"
"makes you sound naive"

Anonymous's picture

Should be good, but deals like these make me nervous. Let's wait two years and see what happens then (that was about how long Pandemic lasted after acquisition, right?)

designerwatts's picture

Congrats to the team at Firemint. The only thing I would hope to see changed is their financials further secured under being a publisher-owned developer. Hopefully this acquisition will open up some new job opportunities in Melbourne over the next few years.

Anonymous's picture

Of course. Firing some of the more expensive, less EA-cultural-fit employees and bringing in cheaper people who will toady up to the new management. Or is that just being cynical?

Anonymous's picture

Since when do EA have a reputation for hiring "cheap" people? In my experience they are actually very selective with who they hire, and they pay quite well compared to the rest of the industry. What is this fear based on?