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Pavlos 10-11-2007 04:38 PM

EA to acquire BioWare
 
Source

Quote:

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS - News) today announced an agreement with Elevation Partners to acquire VG Holding Corp. -- the owner of both BioWare Corp. and Pandemic Studios. This acquisition gives EA a strong competitive position in key genres in interactive entertainment: action, adventure and role-playing games. The two studios have been recognized for creating some of the highest-quality games in the industry.

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BioWare Corp. and Pandemic Studios have ten franchises under development, including six wholly owned games. BioWare Corp. is currently developing the highly anticipated Mass Effect, which will be published by Microsoft in November, and is in the early development stages of a massively multiplayer online game. Pandemic Studios is redefining open-world games with its upcoming Mercenaries 2: World in Flames(TM) and Saboteur(TM), in addition to several unannounced projects.

Pandemic Studios and BioWare Corp. employ roughly 800 people across four studios located in Edmonton, Canada; Los Angeles; Austin; and Brisbane, Australia.

"These are two of the most respected studios in the industry and I'm glad to be working with them again. They'll make a strong contribution to our strategic growth initiatives on quality, online gaming and developing new intellectual properties," said John Riccitiello, EA's Chief Executive Officer. "We also expect this will drive long-term value for our shareholders."

Pandemic Studios is led by Andrew Goldman, Josh Resnick and Greg Borrud. BioWare Corp. is jointly led by Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka. These teams will join the EA(TM) Games Label run by Frank Gibeau, President of EA Games.

"Pandemic Studios remains focused on attracting the best talent and creating blockbuster action games," said Josh Resnick, President and Co-founder of Pandemic Studios. "As a worldwide publishing leader, EA represents the ideal partner to bring our titles to market as global entertainment events."

"We are truly excited by John Riccitiello's new vision for EA," said Ray Muzyka, Co-founder and CEO of BioWare Corp. "This vision is consistent with BioWare's focus on crafting the highest quality story-driven games in the world. It will enable us to further the careers of the passionate, creative and hard working teams at BioWare Edmonton and BioWare Austin."

EA will pay up to $620 million in cash to the stockholders of VG Holding Corp. and will issue up to an additional $155 million in equity to certain employees of VG Holding Corp., which will be subject to time-based or performance-based vesting criteria. EA will also assume outstanding VG Holding Corp. stock options. In addition, EA has agreed to lend VG Holding Corp. up to $35 million through the closing of the acquisition.

Transaction and Financial Information
  • The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.
  • The transaction is expected to close in January 2008.
  • On a GAAP basis, the acquisition is expected to be dilutive to EA's fiscal 2008 results by approximately $0.30 to $0.40 due to non-recurring acquisition-related charges, stock-based compensation and amortization of intangible assets. This amount is a preliminary estimate based on currently-available information and is subject to change.
  • On a non-GAAP basis, the acquisition is expected to be dilutive to EA's fiscal 2008 fourth quarter results by approximately $0.05. This amount is a preliminary estimate based on currently-available information and is subject to change.

The death knell for BioWare, or a sign that EA might actually have someone smart at the top? I'm not sure how the actual BioWare employees themselves will feel about this...

Ever the optimist: It shouldn't make too much difference: BioWare will have a... huge budget for their games now, they just have to put up with a slave driver. Hopefully there won't be a change in the quality and we'll see her become Black Isle to EA's Interplay... hopefully...

Boba Rhett 10-11-2007 04:56 PM

Oh My God, NO! :(


The world grows darker with this news as we have now all officially lived to see the death of all things good.


This is... this is just horrible news for gamers everywhere..... gah. You better damn well believe that EA is going to make them churn games out fast and furious now. It would seem Mass Effect may be their crowning and final achievement. Really the only way I see this working out is if Bioware employees give the two finger salute to EA and jump ship for Obsidian.

stoffe 10-11-2007 05:00 PM

R.I.P. Bioware (1995-2007)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Pavlos
The death knell for BioWare, or a sign that EA might actually have someone smart at the top? I'm not sure how the actual BioWare employees themselves will feel about this...

Well, that's the end of that I suppose. At least we got a handful of kickass games over a decade's time, but I suppose all good things must come to an end. I guess I can remove Dragon Age from the list of games to look forward to. :(

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pavlos
Ever the optimist: It shouldn't make too much difference: BioWare will have a... huge budget for their games now, they just have to put up with a slave driver.

EA has a reputation of being one of the most "suit-controlled" game developers who treat their employees quite unfavorably. Not exactly the most optimal environment for innovative, mold-breaking game development or the making of games with remarkable polish and depth. I'd love to be wrong, but I have a really bad feeling about this.

Bioware's status as an independent, privately owned game developer with good finances gave them a unique position to create great games, more free from the limitations and constraints imposed by beancounters than most others had the fortune of being. To see them stuck under the heels of one of the reputedly worst beancounter overlords in the gaming industry does not bode well at all. :(


(I'd guess that also means we can definitely rule out any more KOTOR games ever being made by Bioware.)

http://www.gamespot.com/news/6180866.html

Pavlos 10-11-2007 05:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by stoffe
EA has a reputation of being one of the most "suit-controlled" game developers who treat their employees quite unfavorably. Not exactly the most optimal environment for innovative, mold-breaking game development. I'd love to be wrong, but I have a really bad feeling about that.

Oh yeah... I remember what happened to the Command and Conquer games after they fully absorbed Westwood studios but let's be optimistic about this: at least we still have Obsidian, who seem, at last, in MotB, to have found the sacred ground that they lost after the collapse of Black Isle. And hopefully BioWare will maintain the ability to make its own creative decisions and won't be driven to the brink of destruction. Make no mistake... my initial reaction was something like this but I think we have to have that pigheaded reluctance to look facts in the face to see us through.

Who knows: if it damages the creativity of BioWare, I'd imagine a lot of the employees would want to leave... people don't get into that industry for the money, from what I can tell, they do it for the love of creating something.

Bob Lion54 10-11-2007 05:12 PM

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Please tell me this is a joke. This has to be a joke. It's April 1st, right?

Well... there goes that. This is a dark day for gamers everywhere.

I wonder if EA knows how big of a joke they are. I wonder if they realize that the only reason they make money is by getting rid of the competition through business means rather than by creating a quality product . I wonder if EA actually thinks their games are good or if they don't care...

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pavlos
Who knows: if it damages the creativity of BioWare, I'd imagine a lot of the employees would want to leave... people don't get into that industry for the money, from what I can tell, they do it for the love of creating something.

Yea, the employees that do the grind work care about games, but the decision makers... not so much. At least, it varies from company to company.

Actually, you bring up a good point about Obsidian. Giving the relationship Bioware and Obsidian have, wouldn't it be great if all the Bioware employees deserted for Obsidian? Wouldn't that be ironic? EA tries to get a great company only to loose what makes it great. EA would just be paying for the name. Sadly, too many people would still buy the games because they wouldn't know better.

EA -1
Gamers- 0

adamqd 10-11-2007 05:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by stoffe
I have a really bad feeling about this.

QFT!

Alkonium 10-11-2007 05:27 PM

Well, I guess I should respond to this the same way I responded to E3 being reduced to nothing: plan a Crusade to stop EA, then do nothing. Where is my crusading hat, anyway?

Achilles 10-11-2007 05:59 PM

Ya know, when Disney announced the purchase of Pixar, I thought it was the worst day ever. Then they turned around and announced that Pixar management was actually taking over even though it was their company being absorbed and then I was hesitantly exuberant.

Maybe we'll see something similar here (pretty please)? *pictures KotOR 3 ala Madden 2009. Runs screaming from building*

Boba Rhett 10-11-2007 06:06 PM

I can picture KotOR 3 too. The problem is that I can also picture KotOR 4-11 coming out within the next four years as well. http://www.olivetinstitute.org/stuff/emot-gonk.gif

SilentScope001 10-11-2007 06:08 PM

Finally, this will put a stop to the "K3 is made by Bioware" rumor.

I am happy about the new merger. This showcases that EA is serious about innovation...by buying out innoviate companies and letting them do their own thing, and then taking the credit for it.:D

Jae Onasi 10-11-2007 06:13 PM

This all depends on if BioWare retains enough creative control to do their job or not.

EA's job is to make money, not necessarily make great games. If a good game with adequate production time sells as many units as a great game with a longer production time, they're going to go with the one that makes the same money but is made in less time. If BioWare can convince them that an excellent quality product meets a niche in the market, then it might fly. Otherwise, hopefully other studios will step up into the gap that BioWare will leave behind.

tk102 10-11-2007 06:29 PM

Pavlos, your optimism is sorely needed in the light of this news. If I were to name the worst possible merger that I could imagine in the video game industry, I would have named this one. :( But I agree with you that designers and programmers will probably jump ship if the new management is too corporate for their creativities. It's possible some of them are already considering side projects.

Corinthian 10-11-2007 06:44 PM

This is a great tragedy. Let's all hang our heads in silence for a minute and think about Dragon Age and the Mass Effect sequels. These are dark days.

Shockingly, this is actually not the worst merger I could think of. The worst I could think of is if Vivendi Universal let go of Blizzard and E.A. snatched it up. But this is almost as bad.

Emperor Devon 10-11-2007 07:18 PM

*Moans*

At least it wasn't Obsidian? Oh dear, it looks like they're now our only hope for good RPGs.

Perhaps the BioWare employees will pull an Obsidian like Feargus and co did at Interplay? One can only hope... :(

*Weeps*

Hallucination 10-11-2007 07:49 PM

Sweet, there might be something good to find if I break into the EA building. o_Q

Arátoeldar 10-11-2007 07:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Boba Rhett
I can picture KotOR 3 too. The problem is that I can also picture KotOR 4-11 coming out within the next four years as well. http://www.olivetinstitute.org/stuff/emot-gonk.gif

So can I. Look at how the Battlefield games are being pumped out and the horrible patching/bug support. :(:mad::(

Rev7 10-11-2007 08:59 PM

This is some pretty bad news. :( I really cannot picture EA's logo on KotOR III. Who knows maybe Obsidian will make it? Anyways this a dark day indeed...

SilentScope001 10-11-2007 09:23 PM

Quote:

I really cannot picture EA's logo on KotOR III. Who knows maybe Obsidian will make it?
It's expected that Obsidan WILL make K3 regardless, but again, this merger has good news in that now people want it that way. :)

mimartin 10-11-2007 09:37 PM

Say it ain't so.:cry8:

I’ll expect the worst and hope for the best.

EA Sports Jedi Football 2009?

Mav 10-11-2007 09:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob Lion54
EA -1
Gamers- 0

I'd say it's more like...
EA - ∞
Gamers - 0

Yea, this is some pretty bad news, EA has pretty much the opposite effect of King Midas... everything EA touches turns into... junk. I guess there is a sliver of hope though, if I recall correctly wasn't Steam/Valve absorbed by EA? And The Orange Box turned out to be a pretty good product.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Emperor Devon
At least it wasn't Obsidian? Oh dear, it looks like they're now our only hope for good RPGs.

Maybe for western RPGs, but SquareEnix and other Japanese developers continue to churn out some pretty impressive RPGs. In any event hopefully this wont turn into a tragedy, but as others have already expressed I have a bad feeling about this.

Edit: Also, with the acquisition of BioWare, Pandemic Studios went with it, Pandemic being known probably most for the Star Wars Battlefront series as well as the Mercenaries series, so it's not good for those two franchises either...

lukeiamyourdad 10-11-2007 10:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Boba Rhett
I can picture KotOR 3 too. The problem is that I can also picture KotOR 4-11 coming out within the next four years as well. http://www.olivetinstitute.org/stuff/emot-gonk.gif


Dude, you forgot about the twelve expansions pack, including the one that adds 3 new lightsaber hilts for the bargain price of $35.99!

Another Canadian company absorbed by an evil US corporation. So fun...

I feel like I want to murder someone.


Quote:

Originally Posted by maverick187
I guess there is a sliver of hope though, if I recall correctly wasn't Steam/Valve absorbed by EA?

EA distributes their games from 2005. I'm not sure, but I think Valve was not "absorbed" so to speak.

Rev7 10-11-2007 10:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mimartin
EA Sports Jedi Football 2009?

That would be awesome!! I don't like football, but I would still play this game anyway! JEDI VS. SITH!!! A Classic.....:p

John Galt 10-11-2007 10:41 PM

this definitely bodes ill, unless the corporate suits at EA will loosen the leash and spare the whip on bioware.

who am I kidding?

stingerhs 10-11-2007 11:30 PM

darn you. darn you EA to heck.

Jeff 10-11-2007 11:37 PM

BioWare was one of my favorite devs, I wonder how this will affect that. Guess it depends how independent EA lets Bioware be from them.

Sucks.

Mav 10-12-2007 12:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lukeiamyourdad
EA distributes their games from 2005. I'm not sure, but I think Valve was not "absorbed" so to speak.

Ahhh thats right thanks for the clarification.

Shem 10-12-2007 12:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mimartin
EA Sports Jedi Football 2009?

I've actually done that in my own way. One the old Madden football games I had for my Xbox, I created a custom team called the Jedi Knights, their home stadium was Coruscant.

I had Anakin Skywalker at QB, Mace Windu at HB, Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi at WR's. I think Qui-Gon Jinn was the Kicker. There were other familiar names I used for both offense and defense. :D

mur'phon 10-12-2007 03:53 AM

When Black Isle was absorbed, people jumped ship, and we got Mask of the Betrayer. When Bullfrog was absorbed, the herd migrated, and we got Black&White2. When Cavedog was absorbed, the pack ran off, and we got Supreeme Commander.

Not every takeover ends bad, hopefully this won't either.

Lantzen 10-12-2007 07:41 AM

R.I.P. Bioware :cry8:

JediAthos 10-12-2007 08:42 AM

Bioware might as well roll over and die because if they don't EA will kill them just like they did Westwood. RIP Bioware...we'll miss you.

Q 10-12-2007 08:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Boba Rhett
Really the only way I see this working out is if Bioware employees give the two finger salute to EA and jump ship for Obsidian.

This is really about the only positive that could possibly come out of this disaster.:(

magnusll 10-12-2007 10:18 AM

As everyone else has said, this is one of the worst possible news for gamers everywhere. The only realistic possibility of keeping Bioware's legacy alive is that most of the creative minds which unerringly gave us brilliant game after brilliant game collectively jump ship to greener pastures. Everything else just means the death knell for arguably one of the two best companies in the videogame market.

Ztalker 10-12-2007 11:04 AM

...

one of the last few innovative studio's has been lost.
Let's wait for Kotor 2008, with new innovative ways...wait. No, just a simple game to rob us of our money.
"Kotor 2008, with 3 new rims for your lightsaber. Customisable Ebon Hawk!"

..this also means EA has direct control over the Jade Empire, Dragon Age and Neverwinter Nights franchises no? Consider them lost... :(

Just when I thought my day couldn't get any worse...

Pavlos 10-12-2007 11:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mur'phon
When Black Isle was absorbed, people jumped ship, and we got Mask of the Betrayer.

Wasn't Black Isle always part of Interplay? I thought it was their purpose-built RPG company.

Anyway... let's just hope this is EA getting smart. With luck, BioWare will maintain creative autonomy and we'll just have EA on the back of the box. As I've said before: if the employees they're squeezed by this they're going to jump ship to another company, or maybe even build their own ship. After so many years of wise business decisions (Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars are profitable licences), I doubt that BioWare would sell its soul to Mephistopheles for twenty four years of service or any other variation on that Faustian theme.

There is likely to be method behind the madness.

Edit: Some answers to questions

Quote:

Greg Zeschuk: Well, to be blunt, I don't really see ourselves as not being independent anymore. We've got a goal of making great BioWare games, and we believe in [EA CEO] John[ Riccitiello]'s vision--we can't overemphasize that. We've worked with John for years, and we're looking forward to keep doing what we're doing and doing it well.

lukeiamyourdad 10-12-2007 11:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pavlos

Greg Zeschuk: Well, to be blunt, I don't really see ourselves as not being independent anymore. We've got a goal of making great BioWare games, and we believe in [EA CEO] John[ Riccitiello]'s vision--we can't overemphasize that. We've worked with John for years, and we're looking forward to keep doing what we're doing and doing it well.

I've read that, but it doesn't mean anything IMO. It seems money has gotten to their heads.

So what's left in the good independent developers page?

-Valve
-Bethesda
-Blizzard (Although part of Vivendi Universal, it's bigger then its mother, might as well control it :s )

Lance Monance 10-12-2007 11:47 AM

There goes my favourite developer, responsible for some of the best RPGs ever.:(

Guess that means my hopes for Dragon age are obsolete now. Damn you, Ea.

Darth InSidious 10-12-2007 11:52 AM

I hate Bioware now.

SilentScope001 10-12-2007 12:21 PM

From the depths of the blogsphere comes this gem that actually represent my view on the matter quite well:

"I don't really see this as a bad thing. The worst thing I can say about EA is they have a serious tendency to stick to what they know will sell. Even the original games they publish tend to be in that 'we know we can sell this' area.

And you know what? Bioware's games are easy to sell. By that I mean, they're pretty typical video game fare in terms of the material involved. The Baldur's Gate games were fantasy RPGs. KOTOR was a sci-fi action RPG. Jade Empire was a wuxia action RPG. Mass Effect is another sci-fi action RPG.

If Bioware was known for making more esoteric games like Okami or Psychonauts, yeah, I'd be concerned. But they don't. They make exceptional video games that are easy to sell to the typical hardcore gamer. EA didn't make all the money they did by screwing up easy money-making formulas like that.

I'm kinda interested to see what Bioware can do with the added muscle of EA behind them. Plus, doesn't EA own at least part of the Lord of the Rings license? They announced that White Council game a while back, at least. Can you imagine Bioware making a LotR RPG? That game would practically print money, and I'm sure EA is aware of that."--- BY BISHMON AT 10/11/07 05:05 PM"

Good job Bishmon, from Kotaku.

Ztalker 10-12-2007 12:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darth InSidious
I hate Bioware now.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Henceforth, you shall be known as Darth Insidious ;)

Maybe it's not Bioware's fault. I mean..it's hard to create games without money. Blizzard realy fares well though. Maybe they just saw this as an investment for the future, to make sure they can keep up quality. EA has the money, Bioware has the skills.

We'll just have to see how this turns out. Will it be like the Sims franchise were Will Wright made an original game and EA took the mainstream course from that point? Or will it be like a deal where EA only provides the money, and Bioware is given the time to do their thing, resulting in good quality games?

At any case, I'm going to sharpen my pitchfork now. And grab some torches. Just in case..you know...:(

Sabretooth 10-12-2007 12:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lukeiamyourdad
So what's left in the good independent developers page?

-Valve
-Bethesda
-Blizzard (Although part of Vivendi Universal, it's bigger then its mother, might as well control it :s )

You forgot Crytek, Epic and Obsidian. :(

So, who's up for some KOTOR 2008 action? Or maybe KOTOR: Street Edition?


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