EA gears for Firemint acquisition

EA gears for Firemint acquisition

By Rob Crossley

May 3rd 2011 at 4:41PM

Australian smartphone developer agrees to buyout

Electronic Arts has made another leap into the mobile games space by agreeing to buy smartphone games specialists Firemint.

The buyout will be sealed in a matter of weeks, EA said.

Financial terms were not disclosed, aside from EA’s claim that “the deal is not material”.

EA announced the buyout just days ahead of its quarterly financial report to investors.

The publisher said the acquisition will “fuel its leadership” in the mobile games space.

Barry Cottle, EA Interactive general manager, said Firemint “is remarkable for its critical and commercial success.”

The move continues the publisher’s march into the mobile games space, as money from traditional boxed blockbusters becomes harder to secure.

In February, EA reported a net loss of $322m for three months of business ending December 31st 2010.

The loss was not out of the ordinary. In recent years EA famously reported financial net losses for twelve consecutive quarters - a staggering three-year period without growth.

MOBILE MIGHT

EA publishes major brands across the App Store and Android Market. Its key brands, such as Battlefield, Need For Speed, FIFA, The Sims and Mirror’s Edge find new life on the mobile platform.

The publisher aggressively discounts its App Store games, to as little as $0.99, in a bid to dominate the App Store charts and gain more presence.

The plan regularly works, with EA Mobile games spread across mobile top ten sales charts during key holiday periods.

The EA Partners programme, which offers marketing support to externally developed games in return for a profit cut, recently expanded to the mobile and social spaces.

Now Android, App Store and Facebook developers can use EA’s publishing muscle in the mobile and social games spaces. In return, developers will give EA a slice of its revenues.

Electronic Arts has appointed its specialist arms in both mobile and social gaming to drive the plan forward. EA’s Playfish will handle social games partnerships, while the recently-acquired Chillingo will deal with mobile games.
Buying Firemint will broaden its opportunities to build high-end mobile content.

Firemint shot to fame with a string of App Store blockbusters, from Flight Control to Real Racing.

And the Melbourne, Australia developer bucks industry trends by creating games that seek to match console sophistication, as opposed to less expensive simple projects.

The App Store hit Real Racing 2 cost $2 million to develop, the studio recently said.