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Adam Creighton, Computer and Video Gaming (Subscribe)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

EA buys BioWare and Pandemic


So, Electronic Arts just worked it out with Elevation Partners to buy VG Holding Corp, which owns BioWare and Pandemic.

From a business perspective, this is a great way for EA to add top-tier Intellectual Property (IP) and talent to their stable. And it's not all that surprising a move to me, since John Riccitiello is the CEO of Electronic Arts, but was the co-founder and Managing Director of Elevation Partners before that, and the President / COO of EA before that.

It does sadden me a bit, as BioWare / Pandemic were an interesting happening in the independent developer scene. And there's a local connection for me, since "It will enable [Electronic Arts] to further the careers of the passionate, creative and hard working teams at BioWare Edmonton and BioWare Austin." (The "Austin" part is the local connection, for those non-regular readers. And welcome!)

I'm curious as to whether there are other reasons EA did this. The cynical side of me worries this is akin to the EA purchase of Criterion, which I would argue wasn't so much for the RenderWare engine, as it was for the Burnout and BLACK IP.

Also, what does this mean for the Xbox 360 exclusive Mass Effect, published (currently) by Microsoft Game Studios? Sure, it probably won't impact the first iteration, but Mass Effect is a franchise, and was a planned trilogy of titles (at the least). Sure, there was no guarantee before that the game would stay an Xbox 360-exclusive, but given the "we'll finish it this hardware generation" mindset, it would be hard to envision it on other systems as well -- EA is arguably the king of multi-SKU titles (to be fair, so are other commercially successful big dogs like Activision and THQ).

And what about other deals? Like the BioWare / SEGA deal for the Sonic RPG?

Almost more importantly, will all of this impact EA's BLACK sequel on the 360? I'm kinda waiting for an update on that. It came out during an investment call update. Now, nothing.

But really, as long as the BioWare / Pandemic people are taken care of, the other stuff is pretty academic.

(As an aside, I don't really care about console exclusives, per se. I just want the games on the platforms I own to rock. Devil May Cry 4 and Orange Box for everyone? Suh-weet. Dead Rising and Lost Planet quality across multiple platforms? The more the merrier.)

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