EA has announced that their two Australian mobile development studios, Firemint and Iron Monkey, will be merging to form one new studio called Firemonkeys. The merge will make Firemonkeys one of Australia’s largest game development studios. The idea to merge the two studios is said to not have come from EA but rather from talks between Tony Lay, the current general manager of Iron Monkey, and executive producer Rob Murray of Firemint.
Tony Lay elaborated on the decision to merge the two studios:
“This is simply the most practical way to be successful, for both Iron Monkey and Firemint. It wasn’t our original intention to merge, but since we work in the same building and we often help each other out on projects it made a lot of sense.”
As for the choice of name for the newly formed studio, Lay stated:
“Ultimately, the name Firemonkeys respects both the studios’ legacy. People can still judge us by the products we make. Iron Monkey has always retained creative control over the games we make and that won’t change. All this merger means is that we can be a lot more efficient in the way we do business. We can share resources and knowledge with Firemint and become the best of the breed in mobile development.”
Looking to the future, Lay has high hopes for the new studio:
“We want to sit shoulder to shoulder with EA studios like DICE and Criterion, and we’ll get there by having IP ownership, whether we create our own or take ownership of an existing one. In the immediate future, this means making sure all Firemonkeys titles are of the same quality and standard as existing Firemint and Iron Monkey titles. I want us to be seen as a creative entity, not simply a porting house.”
Acquired in May 2011 by EA, Firemint has become one of Australia’s most successful game studios, with mobile titles Flight Control and Real Racing being two of their most notable games. Iron Monkey has been behind the development of mobile versions of EA’s bigger franchises and is best known for their work on the mobile versions of Dead Space and Need For Speed.
Firemonkeys is currently on the lookout for new talent to join the studio.
Analysis: Mergers aren’t typically looked at as a good move, especially when the merge is under the umbrella of EA, but I don’t mind this particular one at all. The fact the talk of merging came from within the two studios indicates it was a move discussed thoroughly and openly and wasn’t something that was forced upon them by the parent company.
It sounds as though EA was approached with the decision and said, “Sure, why not.” That’s a good sign that this could work. Seeing as how the two studios appear to have worked together for the most part anyway, this move certainly doesn’t cause any damage. Tony Lay certainly has high hopes for the studio, and I hope that EA doesn’t force them to become just a porting house or another dear sufferer of sequelitis moving forward.