Yesterday, news broke that EA had acquired Firemint, the Australian-based developer behind the lucrative Flight Control and Real Racing franchises. Post the announcement there was speculation as to precisely how much EA paid for Firemint, with estimates ranging from from $20m to $100m.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported a couple of estimates - one source estimated between $20-$40 million, while another claimed the price would be "somewhere between $25 and $100 million, depending on how crazy Electronic Arts were for it."
But speaking at a recent conference call, as reported by Gamasutra, EA CEO John Riccitiello claimed that the price they paid for Firemint was "far lower" than some media estimates.
"One of the things we rather enjoy here," joked Riccitiello, "is acquiring companies and then having people speculate that we spent five times more on it than we actually did."
EA's Eric Brown confirmed that Firemint was acquired for "less than $25m".
In a statement released yesterday, Founder of Firemint Rob Murray was quick to affirm that while EA may have purchased the company, they would retain complete autonomy to create the games they wanted.
"Yes we are staying in Australia," said Rob. "Yes we will be operating with very high levels of autonomy and yes I am running Firemint and doing what is best for our games and our customers. The easiest way to sum it all up is business as usual.
"We reckon that we make some pretty awesome games at Firemint," he continued, "and we reckon we know how to continue making them. EA see us the same way and that’s why they want us to join them. It is a good deal for us, because we need EA’s help in order to win. They can free us up a lot to focus on the creative stuff that really matters and they can provide essential resources to help us build better games. EA believe in us, they want us to make great games and they trust that we know how to do that. We will be joining ranks with some of the best developers in the business."
In an interview with Gamasutra, EA's Barry Cottle expanded on the reasons for picking up Firemint.
"… there are shops out there we see where the motivations align and there's a great cultural fit," claimed Cottle, "and Firemint was one of those for us. It brings that creative talent - and particularly, that kind of mobile-centric talent, so we can begin to develop our brands in the marketplace."
He confirmed that Firemint would utilise EA's strengths in order to further its own creative efforts.
"[Firemint]really knows and understand the space, and to marry that to a publishing and distribution machine - we think the combination of those two things is pretty powerful."
We hope to speak to Rob Murray in the coming weeks to hear more about EA's plans for Firemint, and what they themselves have up their sleeves as a publisher.