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Electronic Arts buys Firemint, developer of Flight Control and Real Racing

May 3, 2011 |  2:14 pm

Electronic Arts on Tuesday said it purchased Firemint, an Australian developer of games for smartphones and tablets, for an undisclosed sum.

Firemint, which has 60 employees in Melbourne, is best known for two games that were first developed for Apple's iPhone and iPad, Flight Control and Real Racing. The company sold 4.5 million copies of Flight Control and 2 million copies of Real Racing.

The acquisition is the second in the last two months made by the company's mobile games division, EA Interactive, based in Playa Vista. In April, EA bought Mobile Post Production, a 60-person company based in Phoenix that specializes in adapting games to multiple devices and operating systems.

The two deals highlight EA's continued push into mobile games, a business that has blossomed since Apple released its iPhone and its iTunes App store opened in 2008. The online store now sells more than 350,000 applications made by a range of independent developers.

"They’re both small, but they’re very key to our overarching strategy," said Barry Cottle, general manager of EA's mobile games business.

EA in October bought Chillingo, a publisher of games for the iPhone and smartphones using Google's Android operating system, for less than $20 million in cash.

Cottle predicted that the overall pace of acquisitions for small innovative companies in the app space will increase over the year as more consumers turn to their mobile devices for entertainment.

"You’ll see more acquisitions of small creative shops," Cottle said. "You’re also seeing the power of scale, and publishing is more critical than ever."

-- Alex Pham