File this under disappointing news of the day. According to TechCrunch, EA has purchased the very popular Australian iOS game developer Firemint. The company boasts a workforce of 60 employees, and is best known for their games Real Racing 1 and 2, and Flight Control.
All of these titles had a high degree of polish, and have been updated several times since their respective releases. In fact, Real Racing 2 HD saw a notable update a couple of weeks ago that added 1080p video output using Apple’s new Digital AV Connector and an HDMI cable. It was the first game in the App Store to include this feature.
That is what bothers me the most about this news. Firemint was a developer known for pushing the envelope of what iOS devices can do. Real Racing 2 was one of the first games in the App Store to really show off the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, and I have already mentioned their latest innovation on the iPad 2. These innovations are what mobile platforms need, but unfortunately, innovation certainly isn’t one of EA’s hallmarks.
Don’t get me wrong, now. EA has made several good games for iOS. However, they have also made many cash in sequels, as well. EA has also released some games that had no business being pushed out the door due to bugs or lack of features (FIFA 11, anyone). They are definitely not known for pushing any envelopes.
Unfortunately, with Firemint now folded into gaming giant EA, it looks like we are losing one of the “good ones.” I’m pretty sure EA will keep the Real Racing and Flight Control series alive, due to their popularity and name recognition in the iOS world, and I’m sure they will continue to be strong titles. However, I can’t say that expect either to be a standard bearer for the platform anymore. I hope I am wrong, but that’s just not what EA does. With Firemint gone, here’s hoping that we continue to see the emergence of new developers that push the boundaries of what we expect from a mobile device and keep the spirit of innovation alive in the App Store.