Electronic Arts or EA is reportedly looking for a potential new buyer or merger to help widen its resources. This comes after Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard in January for $68.7 billion, with Sony following suit a few weeks later with the acquisition of Bungie for $3.6 billion. The company behind popular games such as “The Sims,” “Battlefield,” “Apex Legends,” “SimCity,” “DragonAge,” “FIFA,” (which will be known as EA Sports FC from next year) and “Need For Speed”, has held talks with a number of potential suitors including Apple, Amazon and Disney.
However, it is Comcast that has emerged the front runner in recent times. According to a report by Puck, Comcast chair and CEO Brian Roberts approached Electronic Arts C.E.O. Andrew Wilson with a proposal to spin off NBCUniversal and merge the media and gaming giants. The general terms of the proposal, which lawyers and bankers for both sides negotiated for several weeks, would have seen the Roberts family take majority control of the combined entity, but the company would have been run by Wilson. The proposal ultimately fell apart within the last month due to disagreements over price and structure.
As for the other potential suitors, it is not clear how far these discussions have reached, but it is said that EA has been persistent in pursuing a sale and has only grown more emboldened in the wake of the Microsoft-Activision deal. In the case of a merger, EA is seeking a deal that would allow Wilson to remain as chief executive of the combined company.
In recent years, media companies have taken greater interest in the rapidly-growing gaming industry. Even major rival to EA, Ubisoft, is reportedly looking for a buyer or major financial partner as the industry continues to consolidate.
If Apple buys EA, the company will gain access to EA’s vast library of gaming IPs, which Apple could use to boost Apple Arcade, while at the same time showing developers that Macs and Apple TV are also good gaming platforms. Having its own studio game would also be a plus for Apple to promote the gaming capabilities of its rumored AR/VR headset. The case for Amazon is quite similar as it has Amazon Luna cloud gaming service and Prime Video streaming service.
Electronic Arts approached Disney as recently as March in pursuit of what sources described as “a more meaningful relationship” that would go beyond licensing deals—though it’s not clear whether that meant an ESPN-EA tie-up, or a direct sale. Whatever the case, Disney decided not to pursue those conversations, perhaps because it is focused on its streaming service Disney Plus.
For now, EA remains a company of its own.