Electronic Arts Acquires Melbourne Games Firm Firemint

4th May 2011. Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) today announced an agreement to acquire Firemint Pty Ltd., the leading independent mobile development studio. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Firemint brings a proven powerhouse of creative talent to EAi, with original hits Flight Control and Real Racing for iPhone® and iPad™, and an attractive future slate of games. The deal is not material to EA overall and is expected to close within four weeks. Financial details are not disclosed.

“The added technical expertise of MPP, combined with the creative talent of Firemint and our EAi studio teams, fuels EA’s leadership in delivering top selling, high quality games across mobile phones and smartphones, tablets and future digital interactive entertainment platforms.”

“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 move comes as smaller independent studios are now being sought out by major entertainment groups, including Disney which purchased iOS developer Tapulous last year. The mobile scene has proven far too lucrative to ignore. EA Interactive general manager Barry Cottle told the Wall Street Journal that “this is an overall trend for the industry”.

“You’ll start seeing more of these acquisitions as opposed to the large-scale type because of the nature of openness of the marketplaces. It creates opportunities for third-party independents.”

About Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), headquartered in Redwood City, California, is a leading global interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, the Company develops, publishes, and distributes interactive software worldwide for video game systems, personal computers, wireless devices and the Internet. Electronic Arts markets its products under four brand names: EA SPORTS™, EA™, EA Mobile™ and POGO™. In fiscal 2010, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $3.7 billion and had 27 titles that sold more than one million units. EA’s homepage and online game site is www.ea.com.

About Firemint
Firemint is a Melbourne, Australia-based studio of almost 60 people dedicated to making truly great games. Best known for worldwide hits Flight Control and Real Racing on iPhone and iPad, Firemint was founded by University of Queensland engineering graduate Rob Murray in 1999 as a one-person operation. Mr Murray initially undertook contract programming in the games industry and elsewhere. Firemint developed over 30 games on commission from publishers before switching to self-publishing original titles.

With an eye to the future and a strong desire to grow the studio’s arsenal of experienced developers, Firemint acquired fellow Australian developer Infinite Interactive in January 2011. Famous for its wildly successful Puzzle Quest series and led by veteran game designer Steve Fawkner, Infinite was a perfect fit for the company. Fawkner wasn’t a stranger to Firemint, having shown Murray an early prototype of Infinite’s hit, Puzzle Quest, in 2006. Inspired by this work, Murray went away and created what would later become Flight Control.

Flight Control.
The release of Flight Control on March 5, 2009 spearheaded the company’s rise to prominence as an internationally-recognised independent developer. Flight Control’s intuitive touchscreen controls, appealing visuals and addictive gameplay saw it ascend the sales charts and become one of the most successful iPhone games ever, with over 4 million sales to date. It is now available on a number of platforms included iPad, PC, Mac OS X, DSiWare, Android and PlayStation 3.

Real Racing.
Firemint’s follow-up title, Real Racing, had been in development since May 2008. Launched June 8, 2009, the high-quality, realistic racing title proved two things beyond a doubt: That iPhone was capable of producing gorgeous 3D visuals, and that players craved deeper, more content-rich games. Real Racing, with its intensity, polish and high-production values, quickly became a hit with critics and fans.
Real Racing 2. If Real Racing set the bar high, Real Racing 2 strapped it to a rocket and blasted it into the stratosphere. Powered by Firemint’s Mint3D engine – tailored exclusively and optimised for iOS devices – Real Racing 2 looked and felt like nothing that had come before it. With unparalleled, high-resolution graphics that pushed the iPhone 4 to its limits, 30 licensed cars, 15 tracks and comprehensive, pioneering multiplayer, it was the must-have game to show off the potential of Apple’s latest hardware.
On March 11, 2011, in time for the launch of iPad 2, Firemint released Real Racing 2 HD. Optimised specifically for the unique hardware of iPad and iPad 2, Real Racing 2 HD pulled out all the stops – full screen anti-aliasing, high-detail objects and enhanced reflections on iPad 2, as well as full support for the gyroscope for precision steering. The final product is the ultimate racer for iOS; an unrivalled racing experience that shows off the remarkable technical power of iPad 2 while maintaining flawless quality on iPad.

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