opinion Renai LeMay is a nice dude that I respect; please don’t interpret this as a threat to stab him with a rusty blade deep in his intestines! You can respect people, yet disagree vehemently with their views. This is simply a retort to his commentary on EA buying up Firemint.
I will be honest and say I never heard of Firemint until Flight Control hit iOS (be honest, you never heard of ’em either), but since then I’ve got to know them, or at least their awesome PR person, Alex Peters, pretty well. At last year’s WWDC, I saw them win TWO Apple Developer Awards and was genuinely excited for them. I stood up and cheered when everyone else in the room was clapping politely and feeling jealous it wasn’t them.
Their success and the fact they’re from Melbourne make Firemint a little irrationally close to my heart.
If you were not aware, EA purchased Firemint a few days ago. No info surrounding the sale has been made public beyond this press release from EA and this blog post from Firemint CEO Rob Murray. Neither should it be. Everything else you’ve read about the deal is pure speculation or gossip. Whatever Firemint’s reasons are, it doesn’t matter. What their plans are, it doesn’t matter. Where they develop, who does the development, and so on, doesn’t matter.
The only thing outsiders like myself and Renai should judge Firemint on is the quality of their work. So far, they haven’t given me any reason to doubt them and really, none of us have a right to judge Firemint for their decision.
Renai’s position in the article he wrote is that Firemint, the cool kids down the road, making nice games we all enjoy, have been purchased by big evil EA and will be unable to continue their innovation or quality under EA’s fascist boot heels. There’s also a sub-thread where he lambasts Firemint for selling to a US company, instead of keeping it all in Australia.
In regards to the “keep it in Australia” thing, I’m not going to comment, because I know sweet fuck all about that area. But that selling to EA was a bad idea? Totally farcical.
I don’t know Rob Murray too well, but having just sold my own business (on a much smaller scale, I presume — Firemint & EA haven’t disclosed the financial details of the deal), I know what it’s like to want to achieve big things and not being able to do it. I also know for a fact that Real Racing was Firemint’s baby. Flight Control was more of a surprise, despite being their first internally created game idea.
Real Racing was being developed and thought about much before the App Store hit the scene. If you’ve seen Real Racing grow, it’s clear that it’s changed a lot from it’s original incarnation over time as more work is done on it. It’s actually quite a big, maybe the biggest, developed game on iOS, with the most depth and highest production values on that platform.
There is no doubt that Rob and the Firemint crew want to make more original games for whatever platforms and want them to be of the highest quality possible in the entire industry, not just in Australia and not just for iOS. Selling Firemint to EA suddenly gives Firemint access to the resources of the world’s largest game developer and publisher.
If you had an idea for a game, that’s been stewing in your mind for almost 15 years (this is how long Firemint have been around), you’d want the most resources at your disposal. To compete with the likes of Rockstar, Blizzard, id Software and all the other game developers we look up to, partnering with EA makes total sense.
Criticising Firemint for simply doing the necessary in order to release the best work they possibly can is unfair and ultimately gets in the way of what should be the number one aim of anybody in the game development industry, regardless of their business circumstances: creating the most awesome games possible.
Image credit: Firemint