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Old 10-11-2007, 04:38 PM   #1
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EA to acquire BioWare

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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...


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Last edited by Pavlos; 10-11-2007 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 10-11-2007, 04:56 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:00 PM   #3
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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


Last edited by stoffe; 10-12-2007 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:08 PM   #4
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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.


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Old 10-11-2007, 05:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stoffe
I have a really bad feeling about this.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:12 PM   #6
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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.

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Old 10-11-2007, 05:27 PM   #7
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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?

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Old 10-11-2007, 05:59 PM   #8
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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*
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Old 10-11-2007, 06:06 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 10-11-2007, 07:51 PM   #10
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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.
So can I. Look at how the Battlefield games are being pumped out and the horrible patching/bug support.


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Old 10-11-2007, 10:23 PM   #11
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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.

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.


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Old 10-12-2007, 12:17 AM   #12
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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.


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Old 10-11-2007, 06:08 PM   #13
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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.


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"The Cambodian government has established many exciting-sounding 're-education camps' where both intellectuals and everyday citizens can be sent at any time," Day said. Well, we at Barnes & Noble have always supported re-education in America, and we intend to extend this policy to our new customers." For every hardcover book sold, Barnes & Noble will donate a dollar to the Cambodian government to help re-educate local children.
Full Article Here
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Old 10-11-2007, 06:13 PM   #14
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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.


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Old 10-11-2007, 06:29 PM   #15
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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.
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Old 10-11-2007, 07:18 PM   #16
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*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*


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Old 10-11-2007, 06:44 PM   #17
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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.
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Old 10-11-2007, 07:49 PM   #18
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Sweet, there might be something good to find if I break into the EA building.


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Old 10-11-2007, 08:59 PM   #19
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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...

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Old 10-11-2007, 09:23 PM   #20
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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.


Quote:
Originally Posted by The Onion
"The Cambodian government has established many exciting-sounding 're-education camps' where both intellectuals and everyday citizens can be sent at any time," Day said. Well, we at Barnes & Noble have always supported re-education in America, and we intend to extend this policy to our new customers." For every hardcover book sold, Barnes & Noble will donate a dollar to the Cambodian government to help re-educate local children.
Full Article Here
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Old 10-11-2007, 09:37 PM   #21
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:30 PM   #22
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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.....

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Old 10-12-2007, 12:53 AM   #23
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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.


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Old 10-11-2007, 09:42 PM   #24
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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...


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Last edited by Mav; 10-11-2007 at 09:47 PM. Reason: added stuff
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:41 PM   #25
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this definitely bodes ill, unless the corporate suits at EA will loosen the leash and spare the whip on bioware.

who am I kidding?





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Old 10-11-2007, 11:30 PM   #26
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darn you. darn you EA to heck.


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Old 10-11-2007, 11:37 PM   #27
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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.


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Old 10-12-2007, 01:26 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Moeller
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.
Presumably it will be like an awesome movie property that gets messed around with by hollywood execs. The "power" of bioware is that they were able to create the content they wanted on a schedule they wanted.

I now expect Bioware to release the same game every year with minor cosmetic changes.

Also, does this mean the end of Bioware PC games? Are the all consoles from here on out?

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Old 10-12-2007, 02:31 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime
Also, does this mean the end of Bioware PC games? Are the all consoles from here on out?
I was wondering this same thing.

Now that they are EA employees(slaves) we'll probably slowly start to see turnover until a year from now all EA has is the rights to all of Bioware's past products and not the minds that created them.

You'd think with Bungie splitting off from Microsoft to have more freedom that other independents would appreciate theirs more.

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Old 10-12-2007, 03:36 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hannibal
You'd think with Bungie splitting off from Microsoft to have more freedom that other independents would appreciate theirs more.
Well, it may not have been Bioware's choice, since they are owned by VG Holdings. I don't know if that's a company listed on the stock market, but if it is, then it doesn't matter what the employees want - if somebody makes a bid that the shareholders like (= enough $$), then it gets sold. Period.

Like it's been said, you're not going to hear any employees complain about this openly now, because nobody is going to start off criticising the new boss. What would be the point of that? After all, even if Bioware employees dislike EA, what good will it do them to voice displeasure? It'll just cost them their jobs, and it'll look bad when they're looking for the next one either way. Once they find new jobs and are secure in those, you might hear different, though.

Want to know what Bioware employees think of it? Watch how many of them quietly leave in the next couple of months...


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Old 10-12-2007, 09:53 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jediphile
Like it's been said, you're not going to hear any employees complain about this openly now, because nobody is going to start off criticising the new boss. What would be the point of that? After all, even if Bioware employees dislike EA, what good will it do them to voice displeasure? It'll just cost them their jobs, and it'll look bad when they're looking for the next one either way.
I can speak to this. Employees in these sorts of companies typically are bound by conduct regulations that prevent them from opening speaking unfavorably about their employer. In my contract I am prevented from saying such things. So the silence from bioware employees contractually mandated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jediphile
Want to know what Bioware employees think of it? Watch how many of them quietly leave in the next couple of months...
That is by far the best indicator. But the biggest disappointment is that even if "all" the important people leave and go elsewhere, they can't take their properties with them.

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Old 10-14-2007, 09:08 PM   #32
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My voice will be together with the ones screaming, hell no!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime
Also, does this mean the end of Bioware PC games? Are the all consoles from here on out?

Well, that's unlikely. EA policy of making more money with a single strike reigns supreme. Meaning that their games always have the tendency of being multi-consoles.


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Old 10-12-2007, 03:53 AM   #33
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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.
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Old 10-12-2007, 11:13 AM   #34
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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.


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Old 10-12-2007, 11:35 AM   #35
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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 )


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Old 10-12-2007, 11:47 AM   #36
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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.
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Old 10-12-2007, 12:29 PM   #37
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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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Old 10-12-2007, 12:44 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pavlos
That's mostly corporate PR talk though, doesn't necessarily say what they really think about the issue. You're hardly going to go out to the press and complain loudly about your new boss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabretooth
You forgot Crytek, Epic and Obsidian.
Epic and Crytek are mostly game engine makers though. They've made some amazing game engines that other companies use to make good games, but Epic/Crytek's own games are fairly generic and bland from a story/gameplay perspective. Feels more like tech demos to show what their engines can do, in my opinion. The multiplayer may be OK, but the single player scenarios of their games leave a lot to be desired.

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Old 10-12-2007, 03:58 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by stoffe
Epic and Crytek are mostly game engine makers though. They've made some amazing game engines that other companies use to make good games, but Epic/Crytek's own games are fairly generic and bland from a story/gameplay perspective. Feels more like tech demos to show what their engines can do, in my opinion. The multiplayer may be OK, but the single player scenarios of their games leave a lot to be desired.
Crytek, yes, but not Epic. The Unreal Tournament series might not have been the most ground breaking games ever made, but certainly among the best MP FPS games. Playing in an UT lan is particularly fun


Quote:
"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.
By selling, they mean games that are easily mass marketed. Hell, FIFA games made by EA have always sold better then KONAMI's Pro Evolution serie. Yet, serious soccer fans as well as critics always consider Pro Evo the better game even with the lack of licensing.

But that's sports games only. There was the travesty that was BFME II, zero support for the first game (no, those patches solved nothing). There were those "expansion packs" for The Sims that, IMO, are an insult to human intelligence. Then there's the horrible expansion packs for the Battlefield games, the horrible Battlefield: Vietnam that received no support whatsoever. I can go on about the horrible lack of support and originality of EA's franchises.


Quote:
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.
That's a pretty stupid thing to say. Might as well not make games about anything involving a humanoid form of life to be considered original. Hell, might as well say that unless the idea comes from a proto-human life form, it's not original.


Quote:
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.
It doesn't really matter if they make esoteric games or not. In fact, their strength is in the execution and the writing. What everyone fears is how EA likes to pump out endless sequels and impose weird fees for "unlockable" content as well as crappy expansion packs. Bioware might make amazing games, but they take their time to finish it properly. With the EA executive looking over their shoulder, they might not have the time to properly complete X game for a Christmas release for example.

Note that Bioware is not Blizzard. Though their games can be "superior", depending on the point of view, Blizzard has this mythical status among many gamers, especially in Korea. The fact that it's a branch of Vivendi doesn't matter then: whatever happens, they have the better position in terms of negotiation. Hell, this is the company that pushed back the World of WarCraft expansion pack from a Christmas 2006 release to January 2007 and nobody can touch them about that.

Bioware does not have this luck.


Quote:
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"
What if they don't want to make a LotR RPG and it gets forced on them?


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Old 10-12-2007, 07:41 AM   #40
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