EA snaps up Melbourne tech start-up Firemint

Melbourne-based tech start-up Firemint has been acquired by entertainment giant Electronic Arts for an undisclosed sum.


Launched by Rob Murray in 1999, Firemint is now a leading iPhone app developer, enjoying huge success with its Flight Control and Real Racing iPhone apps.


In January, Firemint acquired fellow Melbourne-based start-up Infinite Interactive, which is a video game studio, to focus on self-published titles.


The move by EA comes as various entertainment conglomerates attempt to grow their share of the burgeoning mobile market. EA recently acquired mobile development company Mobile Post Production to manage its focus on mobile and tablet gaming markets.


EA, which has a market capitalisation of $US6.7 billion, announced the latest acquisition overnight in a press release, saying the undisclosed price was “not material”.


However, the iOS developer is recognised as one of the leading game developers on the platform and would likely command a price of several million dollars.


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


“Having them as part of EAi will accelerate our position as worldwide leader in game development for mobile devices and online gaming platforms.”


Although Firemint could not be reached for comment, the company is considered one of the biggest success stories within the Australian video game industry.


Firemint’s Flight Control game, along with the Real Racing franchise, has netted the company millions of dollars, and has provided it with a respectable number of awards. The success has also given it plenty of attention from international developers and publishers.


Smaller independent studios are increasingly being sought out by major entertainment groups, including Disney, which purchased iOS developer Tapulous last year.


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,” Cottle said.


Meanwhile, it’s been reported Twitter has acquired add-on program Tweet Deck for between $40 and $50 million, although the micro blogging site is yet to confirm this.


In recent months, Twitter has been valued at around $7 billion.


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