Continuing our series of antipodean developer profiles, we look at Firemonkeys, EA’s Melbourne-based studio.
Firemonkeys was a result of the merger of Firemint (Flight Control, Real Racing) and Iron Monkeys (Mirror’s Edge, Dead Space and Need For Speed mobile versions), two independent studios which were acquired by EA at around the same time.
"It made sense to merge the two talented groups together and start sharing our expertise," Kynan Woodman, Senior Producer at Firemonkeys told Develop.
"Just after the merger there were distinct groupings of Fireminters and Ironmonkeys on projects, but with a few people leaving and many more joining it is no longer the case."
"These days the Firemonkeys focus on working together to produce the best possible games on mobile; if one team is behind on a milestone, another team will pitch in where they can. That is one strength that came out of the merger: more knowledge and expertise to draw on."
RealRacing is one of the team’s biggest hits, and one of the biggest new IPs to debut on mobile devices. Apple even chose to use Real Racing 3 to showcase the latest iPhone tech when the iPhone 5 was revealed in 2012. Since consolidation, Firemonkeys has been aiming at bringing EA’s franchises to the small screens with their trademark quality.
"One of our challenges has been to recruit senior roles," adds Woodman, talking about issues facing local developers. "We have had good success employing juniors that are educated locally, but most of the industry is still quite new here and it can be hard to find specific senior roles for mobile unless we look internationally."
The merger occurred in 2011, shortly before the release of action puzzler Spy Mouse, and the team has since been handed the keys to EA’s biggest franchises, coming out with Mass Effect: Infiltrator and The Sims: Freeplay.