In what could be the start of a bidding war, EA has just offered to acquire Codemasters for $1.2 billion. This comes a month after Take-Two had revealed their offer to purchase the developer for $994 million.
Codemasters, the developer for popular racing games like Dirt 5, F1 2020 and Grid, revealed that it found EA's offer to be superior. As reported by Reuters, Take-Two is considering what to do next, if anything at all.
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Andrew Wilson, Chief Executive Officer at EA, provided his reasons for why he believes Codemasters would be a great fit for the company, "With the full leverage of EA’s technology, platform expertise, and global reach, this combination will allow us to grow our existing franchises and deliver more industry-defining racing experiences.”
What does this mean for gamers?
All this technical stuff is pretty uninteresting to the average consumer, so what does this acquisition mean for gamers? The good news is that EA and Xbox have recently begun a partnership to include EA Play on Ultimate or PC tiers of Xbox Game Pass. If EA does successfully acquire Codemasters, it could mean a large chunk of the developer's older catalog gets unloaded onto the service.
This includes dozens of games, from every F1 since 2009, the Dirt series, Grid and lesser-known titles like Overlord and Fuel. The games appearing on EA Play isn't definitive as of now, but if EA wants to bolster the success of this service, bringing niche audiences into the ecosystem could prove to be an effective business tactic.
And if you're already a subscriber to Xbox Game Pass, this would hopefully result in dozens of additional games to play at no extra cost.
However, there are many possible downsides to EA acquiring Codemasters. EA is notoriously a studio-killer, one that deconstructs acquired developers and funnels those resources into other studios and projects.
For example, Danger Close Games, the developers of Medal of Honor and Command & Conquer, were closed in 2013. A few months later, DICE LA opened up, with the previous head of Danger Close Games in charge and many returning staff. Since 2013, DICE LA's sole purpose was to assist the DICE in its projects rather than building its own. This changed recently though, with Vince Zampella from Respawn Entertainment taking over DICE LA and pushing the studio to work on its own projects.
Visceral Games is another studio that was shut down by EA in 2017 after the developers were working on a mysterious single-player Star Wars game. At the time, EA was convinced that single-player games could no longer make as much money as they were years ago. Many believe this to be the reason why Visceral Games was shut down.
Codemasters is responsible for a handful of successful racing games, and EA is bound to make changes to the studio. It's worrying to think of what these changes might yield, and although they could most certainly be positive ones, it's hard to have faith given EA's track record.