The video game industry is driven by acquisitions and mergers. Hard though it may be to believe, Activision and Blizzard were once separate companies. As mobile gaming (enabled by smartphones) becomes a more and more important part of the industry landscape, mobile developers are being gobbled up by larger companies. It was certainly news when EA purchased onetime Angry Birds publisher Chillingo, and it is no less newsworthy that the mega-publisher is now adding developer Firemint to its stable of studios.
Firemint is one of the most respected developers specializing in mobile games. If you own an iPhone, there is a strong possibility that one of their titles is on it right now. Firemint is best known for two games on opposite ends of the iPhone game spectrum: the simple, but hugely addictive Flight Control, and the involved, graphically impressive Real Racing games.
Electronic Arts has commented that acquiring Firemint will “fuel its leadership” on mobile platforms. Given Firemint’s extremely strong record of developing popular, polished mobile games, that makes a lot of sense.
However, while many mobile developers specialize is bite-sized experiences, Firemint has proven that they can deliver games on a much larger scale. For instance, Real Racing 2, available for both iPhone and iPad, features 30 officially licensed cars, fourteen environments, a ten hour campaign, and sixteen player online racing.
Clearly, as the mobile games market continues to grow, companies that can really deliver on the platform are bound to thrive. The upcoming release of the iPhone 5, and the continuing expansion of the Android platform, make having a strong presence in that space ever more important, as EA no doubt understands.
But with Firemint specifically, could there be more than mobile games on EA’s mind? Firemint has made racing games a specialty, and Real Racing 2 is absolutely competitive with many console titles. Could a PS3/Xbox 360 version of Real Racing be in store, either as a boxed product or a downloadable game? For that matter, might EA be interested in adding Firemint to the cadre of studios responsible for the Need for Speed series? At the rate new Need for Speed titles are being announced, it certainly seems like a possibility.
Ranters, what do you think of EA’s acquisition of Firemint? Would you be interested in a console version of Real Racing?
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