EA merges Firemint, IronMonkey mobile game units to create Firemonkeys


Electronic Arts is merging its two biggest mobile game studios, Firemint and IronMonkey, to create a new unit dubbed Firemonkeys.

EA acquired IronMonkey in early 2010 and scooped up Firemint in mid-2011. Together, the two firms are responsible for more than 85 million downloads from Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store, a number bolstered by blockbusters including Flight Control, SPY mouse, Mass Effect Infiltrator, Dead Space and The Sims FreePlay. As Firemonkeys, the unit plans to focus on its own projects while also partnering with EA on collaborative efforts. Firemonkeys adds it is looking to expand its development team.

Last month, EA said it plans to shift its business away from premium mobile game sales to focus on the freemium model, calling free-to-play titles "the norm" moving forward. "We started to see that freemium was coming in, and it took us a long time to move over," Electronic Arts Senior Vice President and Group General Manager Nick Earl told All Things D. "In all candor, we are behind."

Earl added that EA has been slow to embrace the freemium model in part because the business is so different from one-time premium downloads. He said freemium games are essentially a live service that must support a host of transactions as well as thousands of daily active users. As a result, EA Mobile will now devote more of its resources to supporting individual titles and also will ship fewer games in the future. Upcoming EA projects include Strike Force, an HTML5-based 3D multiplayer title enabling gamers to compete across smartphones, tablets, gaming handhelds and other Web-enabled devices.

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