Electronic Arts continues to bolster its investment in the mobile video game space. The game publisher has acquired Melbourne, Australia-based game developer Firemint, which will become a part of Electronic Arts Interactive (EAi). Analysts are saying EA likely paid $40 million to $100 million for the 60-man game studio.
Firement is best known as the creators of hit iOS game franchises Real Racing and Flight Control. The Flight Control games have sold over 4.5 million copies on iPhone and iPad, while Real Racing games have sold nearly 2 million downloads. Before hitting it big with its original IP, Firemint worked with Electronic Arts on the Madden NFL 3D franchise, Need for Speed Most Wanted and The Sims DJ.
This deal, which is expected to close within four weeks, follows EA’s recent acquisition of Mobile Post Production (MPP), a company that focuses on smartphone cross-platform development and the porting of games for smartphones.
Barry Cottle, executive vice president and general manger of EAi, said the added technical expertise of MPP, combined with the creative talent of Firemint and other EAi studio teams, will help EA deliver top selling, high quality games across mobile phones and smartphones, tablets and future digital interactive entertainment platforms.
EA has been focusing on the growing mobile games space over the past few years. The company acquired Chillingo, the publisher of the original Angry Birds, in October 2010 and Playfish, which makes casual mobile games, in November 2009.
According to research firm Gartner, mobile gaming revenue is expected to reach $11.4 billion by 2014, up from $5.6 billion last year. The proliferation of new tablet devices from companies like Samsung, LG, Acer, Asus, HP, Vizio, Motorola and Research In Motion is opening up a new audience for games. International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that there will be 50 million tablets in homes around the world.
In the smartphone business, lower prices are enticing a wider demographic to upgrade to phones that support more gaming functionality. Parks Associates forecasts there will be over 1 billion smartphones by 2014.