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Electronics Arts has swooped on Melbourne-based mobile gaming developer Firemint for a reported estimate of somewhere between US$20-40 million.

Founded in 1999 the Australian developer is the creator of mobile game hit “Flight Control” and driving game, "Real Racing," which is an iPhone and iPad favourite.

Once the deal is closed, in an anticipated four weeks, Firemint will become part of EA's mobile and web game unit, EA Interactive.

EA Interactive executive VP Barry Cottle praised the Firemint team for its “critical and commercial success" and said their addition to EA would help accelerate the companies position as a gaming leader.

Firemint founder and CEO Rob Murray confirmed on his company blog that the company and its 60 strong staff would be staying in Melbourne with “business as usual”. While refraining from outlining plans he said that the deal “can free us up a lot to focus on the creative stuff that really matters and they can provide essential resources to help us build better games. We will be joining ranks with some of the best developers in the business.”

In January Firemint acquired fellow Australian game studio, Infinite Interactive. Infinite Interactive is best known for the “Warlords” and “Puzzle Quest” series of games, both designed by the companies founder Steve Fawkner. As part of the acquisition Fawkner joined Firemint as a product manager.

The rise of social gaming has led to a 36% rise in global funding and acquisition deals in 2010. According to recent IHS Screen Digest research the total number of funding and acquisition deals in gaming swelled to 210 last year. ®

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