The Empire Expands: EA Outbids Take-Two Interactive for Codemasters

There is one bright spot in many investors’ portfolios this year and that is the video games sector. Experiencing record rates of growth while other industries falter under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, game companies are looking for more ways to move the bottom line and drive the stock price up. One of the most popular methods for doing just that is for larger titans of the industry to gobble up smaller players with solid portfolios. This is basically what EA has done for its entire corporate history.

And they just outbid another massive player in the industry as EA walks away with Codemasters for $1.2 billion, snatching the British developer of F1 and Dirt out of the hands of rival Take-Two Interactive.

Take-Two’s original bid of $971 million was bested by Electronic Arts which seeks to further its portfolio of sports-themed games.

A press release from Codemasters read in part: “ The Codemasters Board has considered various aspects of the EA Offer and considers the EA Offer to represent a superior offer for Codemasters’ shareholders as compared with the Take-Two Offer.”

The deal is a pretty big one for EA, too, as it marks their largest acquisition to date. As we hinted earlier, EA isn’t shy about buying other companies so the fact that Codemasters commanded the highest premium yet should give us some insight into EA’s plans for its properties.

This also recalls the deal Microsoft made for Fallout and The Elder Scrolls’ home, Bethesda, earlier this year. Is consolidation fever sweeping the industry? Many analysts say that is exactly what is happening and the end goal is a greater share of a rapidly growing market.

Head of tech, media and telecom research at Mirabaud Securities wrote in a letter about the deal, “In some respects, EA’s move feels defensive, because they are already under attack from Take Two and many of their franchises are becoming second rate relative to leaders.”

Indeed, bolstering their portfolio of sports-related titles is exactly what EA is doing. The company can leverage Codemasters’ portfolio of games with EA’s access to a massive audience of gamers to amplify existing properties and maybe even spawn new ones. A huge reason for EA’s aggressive actions in the sports gaming space is that many of these titles are iterative in nature and thus bring in a stable or reliable amount of income on a yearly basis.

Why take a risk on the Cyberpunk 2077s of the world when you can just pump out another Madden or other sports title, this thinking goes. There is also the company’s massive online presence and infrastructure as well as their increasingly intimate ties with the eSports industry to consider when looking at Codemasters’ games.

What do you think of EA’s purchase of Codemasters? Do you think consolidation is good for the video game industry or a bad sign? Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments section below.

Be sure to read some of our other video game news at this link right here.

EA Really Wants to Buy WB Games – And It Just Might Happen

Rumors are what help drive a lot of gaming news media forward but also they act as a kind of signal to elicit some kind of response.

In this case, we’re wondering if EA is trying to come on a little strong in expressing its interests.

WB Games might not be one of the first publishers that come to mind when you think about the big names out there like Capcom, Sega, and Square, but they not only publish some pretty big titles but also they have some hot properties on the horizon.

And EA would like to scoop them up in a deal, for better or worse. That’s right, gaming’s own Cronus wants to devour yet another titan of the scene and who knows what kind of impact that will have on Batman games and the upcoming open-world Harry Potter title, if anything.

But EA has never let their reputation for sterilizing creative forces stop them from making a major acquisition in the past.

Could the WB Games thing actually happen?

Well, one major roadblock might be other gaming publishers themselves. If WB Games makes it known that it wants out of the business, this could lead to a veritable feeding frenzy among the big names out there. Also, while EA has deep pockets, many of its competitors have caught up with and some names surpass it entirely, like Microsoft for example. One name bandied about as a potential suitor for WB Games should it come up for acquisition is none other than the Redmond clan behind the Xbox, a console relatively starved for exclusive content when compared with Nintendo and Sony and which could really benefit from something like a triple-A open-world Harry Potter game and the license to the Batman property. Spider-Man on PS, Bat Man on Xbox, anyone?

That brings up the second aspect of all of this and that is anyone who buys WB Games will likely need deep pockets. It isn’t that EA isn’t capable of buying it, it’s all a matter of who else wants a piece of it. 

Some analysts have cited the business impact of the novel coronavirus and, specifically, finance. The implication here is that a company that doesn’t have the cash on hand might not be able to secure financing for such a purchase given the current environment. Yet, on the other hand, one industry that has boomed while everything else has largely suffered is video games. In other words, we don’t think EA would have to try too hard to find someone willing to help it cough up the cash for a WB Games acquisition if it comes down to that.

What do you think of EA’s desire to buy WB Games? Let us know what you think about this story in the comments section below.

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Review: A Way Out

A how to escape prison simulator, now available on Steam.

We previously mentioned that EA/Origin was moving a bunch of games over to Steam. Amidst the move, many EA games were on sale in the Steam store and it has brought many of these games back onto my radar.

I have been wanting to play A Way Out for a while now and this seemed like as good a time as any. The game is exclusively a 2 player co-op experience and it cannot be played without a friend. The main premise of the game is you reliving the tale of two inmates escaping prison. The main menu literally shows your two characters outside of prison talking back on the feat, so you know you successfully escaped already.

Game Play

The game is on the story telling side, rather than being challenging or having any advanced combat mechanics. I don’t think I even saw a difficulty setting. This is not a bad thing at all, the game accomplishes its goal very well. The coolest thing is that even if you are playing online, you are always seeing the game in split screen. You can see everything that your partner in crime is doing, which keeps you in the loop and creates a new sense of immersion into the game.

The acting is pretty good and they do portray the emotions of your characters and the NPCs pretty decently. I wouldn’t rave about the acting, but I’m not mad at it either. You can also interact with numerous items in the environment which adds to the experience. The puzzles are pretty straightforward, I don’t think anything will have you thinking too hard, but it’s enough to keep you entertained for a while.

Bugs

The game has been out for a while and it is clear that EA (Or Hazelight Studios) didn’t care enough to fix any common and very clearly reported bugs. I ran into 2 game breaking bugs the first 3 hours, which I had to google and found out happened to literally almost everyone. Game companies need to pay more attention and fix GAME BREAKING bugs. I ran into an infinite loading screen 3 times that required me to exit the game and reload. While another bug broke the environment and I could not advance in the story anymore.

I think the game is awesome and would recommend people to pick it up if they have a friend they can experience the game with, but it is disappointing to see some sloppiness from the developers. There are brief sections of the game that I felt were poorly developed, but I’ll avoid talking about those as they could include spoilers.

Check the game out on Steam.

EA Origin Games Moving to Steam, Including APEX

EA announced back in October 2019 that they would be moving many games to Steam.

Many of those games are now available on the Steam store. As a bonus they are discounting a ton of titles on the steam store as well! You can snag star wars, need for speed, battlefield titles, and more!

APEX Legends will also definitely be moving to steam and the store page is already available but listed as TBA.

The common question is – will you still need Origin?

Unfortunately, yes, you will still need Origin installed and running to play these games even if they were bought and installed on Steam. A common model used by other publishers like Ubisoft’s Uplay. However, you still reap the benefits of Steam’s download servers and stability. I often have problems with many other publisher’s launchers, and steam has remained the best in functionality and stability. Steam also never fails to give me MAX download speeds on games.

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New Releases

Even without APEX, lots of titles are already available. A Way Out is exclusively a 2 player co-op game where you explore prison life and try to escape. I’m personally excited to try this one out.

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Titanfall and APEX!