In the great video game consolidation cycle, EA could be the next major publisher to find a buyer.
We repeat it quite regularly, for several years the video game sector has been in the grip of great concentration. In the entertainment industry, Disney has shown that nothing matters more than licensing and intellectual property rights. The video game industry is seen as a huge reservoir of licenses ready to be adapted into films, series or better exploited in video games in all their forms. The Covid crisis has also shown the importance that video games have taken on in our lives, especially among younger generations.
For all these reasons, hardly a week goes by without hearing about an acquisition. In the field, Microsoft has particularly distinguished itself with the acquisition of Bethesda Zenimax (The Elder Scrolls, Doom, Wolfenstein, Fallout), then the announcement of the acquisition of Activision Blizzard at the beginning of the year (Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Candy Crush). We can also mention the ongoing takeover of Bungie by Sony and the European group Embracer, which crunches the western branch of Square Enix.
Next on the list might just be EA.
“EA is stubbornly seeking a takeover”
It is the paying site Puck which reveals this important information in the course of a portrait of Brian Roberts, the boss of the American entertainment giant Comcast. The portrait looks back on the successive failures of Brian Roberts when it comes to mergers or acquisitions after having seen Disney take over Fox under his nose, the merger of Warner with Discovery or the monster takeover of Activision-Blizzard by Microsoft for nearly of $70 billion.
According to Puck mentioning 4 different sources, Brian Roberts therefore approached one of the last video game giants still very independent: EA. The American publisher is known for its numerous sports licenses such as Fifa (from which he will separate), Madden NFL, NHL, F1 and cfu. We also know the exclusive licenses of Electronic Arts as The Sims, Need for Speed, Mass Effect, Titanfall or Battlefield. In those talks, the goal was to merge media outlet NBCUniversal with EA to create a new transmedia entertainment giant.
Negotiations reportedly broke down in April following disagreements over the resale price and the definition of the new structure. The information does not stop there. Still according to Puck, EA would be stubborn about getting a buyout for several months, and even more after the announcement of the takeover of Activision-Blizzard by Microsoft.
The GAFA mentioned in the discussions
Puck’s sources explicitly mention Disney, Apple and Amazon as having each been involved in takeover talks. It is impossible to say how far these discussions have gone, which would make it possible to judge the interest of these giants for a potential takeover. We think in particular of Apple, which has never shown interest in the PC and console video game industry until now, despite its appetite for other entertainment sectors.
According to Puck, Andrew Wilson, the boss of Electronic Arts, would like to remain at the head of the new organization in the event of a resale or a merger. He would have declined a recruitment from Disney to take the helm of ESPN, the sports giant on television in the United States. Andrew Wilson would still have the giant Disney in his sights and would seek at least a large-scale partnership between the two actors. Remember that EA had exclusive video game adaptation rights to Star Warsa Disney license, until 2021. Known to have been frustrated by Star Wars Battlefront 2, the entertainment giant decided in 2021 to diversify its video game offer with new players. Ubisoft, Quantic Dream and others will offer games Star Wars in the future.
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