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Electronic Arts said today it has purchased Australian game developer Firemint, maker of the popular Flight Control games on the iPhone and iPad.

The move is part of EA’s plan to dominate the market for mobile games on smartphones and tablets, where it already has a big presence. Mobile gaming is becoming a bigger and bigger battleground, and many view it as potentially a lot bigger than the already lucrative social game market on Facebook. EA is grabbing as much mobile game development talent as it can as it competes with rivals such as Zynga.

Melbourne, Australia-based Firemint has shown that it can come up with repeat hits on the iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) platform. I’ve spent many hours playing Firemint’s Flight Control on the iPad, where you tap and slide your fingers on the touchscreen to guide airplanes in for a landing. The game becomes furiously difficult as more and more aircraft crowd the screen. You become an overworked air traffic controller, but Firemint figured out how to make that fun.

Firemint also had a big hit with Real Racing, a racing simulation game that you control by tilting the device in one direction or another, tapping the built-in motion sensors of the device.


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The new studio will become part of EAi, which includes EA’s mobile games business. The deal is expected to close within four weeks. The purchase price was not disclosed, as it is not material to EA, which generates more than $3 billion a year in revenues. EA also recently acquired Mobile Post Production, which has a platform to make cross-platform mobile games. Barry Cottle, head of EAi, said the acquisition will further EA’s push for better quality games.



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