Firemint and Infinite Interactive surprised us all the other day with the news that the one company was buying the other, but Firemint's Rob Murray and Infinite's Steve Fawkner weren't surprised themselves. "We've actually been talking about this for years, going back to 2006," Murray told TUAW today.
Fawkner actually showed Murray a prototype of his company's Puzzle Quest game back in the day, and that reportedly encouraged Murray to start a game of his own that eventually became Flight Control, which itself spawned the Firemint company. "It's always been in the back of our minds, sometimes we've talked about it. It's only now that we've been able to make it possible."
So the first question is: why now? It turns out that the two companies may have more in common than we think. "The studios have evolved with similar kinds of ideas and similar kinds of things," says Fawkner. "We've wanted to get into digital distribution for a long time, and Rob's already headed down that path, so it really made sense to go ahead and bring the studios together and go along that path together."
Indeed, Infinite's experience with console titles, and Firemint's recent push toward more traditional gaming platforms, meant that Fawkner's experience was a big bonus for Murray, but he says that wasn't the only reason for the acquisition. "It's great that we've got different experiences, and part of this whole thing is having those strengths," Murray says. "But that wasn't really the draw. The way we view things is that games come in first and foremost, so it's purely designing games together that was really key to us."
Both Fawkner and Murray come off as extremely respectful of each others' work, so much so that they're not all that bothered with branding. From now on, all of the games released by this company will be Firemint games, with both developers and all of the other employees working together. "We're all working together and we're all one big happy family, so I don't see any point of diluting that by releasing an Infinite game and a Firemint game," says Fawkner, who says he's ready to abandon his own brand anyway. "I felt the Firemint brand has been stronger than Infinite Interactive, so I'm very happy for us to go with the Firemint brand."
Currently, there's only one unannounced game being developed at Firemint. The company is still working closely with Namco Bandai, the publisher of Infinite Interactive's Puzzle Quest games, so it's still possible that we could see another title in that series. More likely, we'll see ports of more Firemint games on other platforms. "We're still very heavily focused on iOS," according to Murray, "but it doesn't mean we don't want to support everything else."
Flight Control is already available on quite a few platforms, both modern and traditional, and more games are sure to follow. The one big platform that Firemint hasn't yet hit is Xbox Live (a platform which Infinite has some experience with), but Murray says the only reason the company went with the PlayStation network first was the Move motion controller -- that kind of interface lent itself to Flight Control in a much better way. As for whether Firemint has looked at Xbox's Kinect, Murray says, "we haven't yet, internally. But it's obviously interesting. In this case, it was easier for us to go out on PSN pretty quickly."