An EA sale or merger is reportedly being sought by CEO Andrew Wilson, similar to the deal between Microsoft and Activision earlier this year that saw the Call of Duty publisher get acquired by Xbox’s owners. Supposedly, EA is “persistent in pursuing” such a deal and has had talks with NBCUniversal, Disney, and Apple already.
EA has had some turbulent times in the last few years, for sure. The publisher recently lost the FIFA football licence after 20 years, and Battlefield 2042 saw its first season significantly delayed as the developer sought to stamp out its many bugs. Dragon Age 4 has gone through multiple changes and delays, and BioWare’s most recent game Anthem was an expensive disaster.
Despite all this, EA’s last financial year was still its best ever, with profits up 20% and net earnings totalling around $7.5bn USD/ £6bn GBP. According to a new report by Puck (via Kotaku), the veteran publisher is supposedly looking to follow Activision’s example in seeking an acquisition deal, with EA mostly interested in “a merger arrangement that would allow Wilson to remain as chief executive of the combined company” – similar to the original Activision-Blizzard merger, in fact.
According to Puck reporter Dylan Beyers, “sources familiar with these talks say EA has been persistent in pursuing a sale and has only grown more emboldened in the wake of the Microsoft-Activision deal”. A deal with comcast CEO Brian Roberts to “spin-off” NBCUniversal into a “combined entity” with EA supposedly got far along but fell apart due to “disagreements over price and structure”. EA is still a “potential merger target” for Comcast, however.
The report states that EA also sought a deal with Disney as recently as March in search of “a more meaningful relationship” than just licensing, following its announcement of multiple new Star Wars games being overseen by Apex Legends developer Respawn. Disney backed out of the discussions, however.
Electronic Arts spokesperson John Reseburg refused to comment on these rumours, apparently, but stated that EA is “proud to be operating from a position of strength and growth, with a portfolio of amazing games, built around powerful IP, made by incredibly talented teams, and a network of more than half a billion players. We see a very bright future ahead.”
It remains to be seen if anything comes of this, but it’s not the only acquisition news going on this year. Aside from the Microsoft deal to buy Activision Blizzard, Destiny 2 studio Bungie was recently acquired by Sony, and Paradox Interactive “might be” seeking other companies and IP to acquire.