In the year 2022, we already witnessed a surprising amount of mergers within the video game industry. From Microsoft’s monumental purchase of Activision Blizzard to Sony’s decision to snag Bungie, the top dogs are getting stronger. Now, Electronic Arts is reportedly up for grabs.
A staple in the gaming industry for decades, EA is responsible for everything from Madden to Battlefield. With an impressive AAA library that spans such a diverse range of genres, CEOs of major companies are rubbing their hands with anticipation. And the untethering appetite of powerful corporations means there will also be many companies throwing their hats in the ring.
Currently, even companies not as well known for video games have their sights set on EA. Amazon, Apple, Disney and NBCUniversal reportedly all have interest in an acquisition. However, established gaming companies are also likely locked in on the opportunity. I’m sure the giants like Microsoft and Sony are also gearing up as well. Although, ultimately, only one company with the largest bid will gain control, here are the five with a lot to gain.
With recent purchases of both Bethesda and Activision, Microsoft is clearly on a mission. Therefore, the opportunity to add EA to its ever-growing gaming empire is probably high on Microsoft’s radar. There are also a couple reasons why EA specifically would uniquely benefit Microsoft.
One reason regards exclusive games. Although for years, the company shuddered in comparison to Sony when it came to exclusive games, the tides may soon turn. Sure Microsoft claims they won’t make Activision titles Xbox-exclusive, but the precedent they set with Bethesda indicates otherwise. Making EA titles exclusive to Xbox as well would also further cement Microsoft’s stance in the console war.
Another benefit buying EA would grant Microsoft is the EA Play subscription service. Currently, Microsoft already partners its Xbox Game Pass service with EA Play. However, merging the two into one subscription that’s exclusive to Xbox could make Microsoft even more powerful.
On the other side of the coin, Sony has motivation to counter the recent threatening moves by Microsoft. While the company did acquire Destiny creator Bungie, purchasing EA would prove far more fruitful overall. Owning EA would also offer Sony multiple other benefits to stay in equal competition with Microsoft.
One major benefit owning EA would grant Sony is a continued foothold on exclusive games. Although one of PlayStation’s largest strength was its impressive catalogue of first-party console exclusives, Microsoft’s acquisitions of Bethesda and Activision pose a real threat. Sony would likely want EA to continue its dominance in PlayStation exclusivity.
In addition, just as merging EA Play with Xbox Game Pass helps Microsoft, Sony could take advantage of EA’s subscription model through its own revamped PlayStation Plus. PlayStation’s answer to Xbox Game Pass merges the current PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now into one plan with three payment tiers. If Sony got its hands on EA, the PlayStation Plus model could prove that much more successful.
Another company intent on growing its empire is Take-Two Interactive. In fact, just this year it purchased mobile game developer Zynga for $12.7 billion. With an already-impressive library that includes 2K, Rockstar and Private Division, Take-Two is an absolute behemoth in gaming.
So, aside from EA simply making a nice new addition to its already enormous empire, why else would Take-Two want it? Simply put, EA is currently Take-Two’s largest competitor within the sports game genre. While 2K offers licensed sports games from the NBA and WWE, EA Sports has deals with the NFL, FIFA, NHL and UFC.
Purchasing EA would be a strategic move for Take-Two Interactive by not only eliminating competition in the sports genre, but also adding the collection to its own collection. With the library of EA Sports, Take-Two would immediately climb the ladder as the top publisher for sports games. While 2K previously failed to create successful MLB and NFL games, utilizing the EA Sports studio would give it a deeper foothold on the genre.
Aside from reports suggesting Disney is already highly interested in purchasing EA, there are a couple other reasons why it’s a likely candidate. First of all, Disney’s empire within the entertainment industry as whole is unprecedented. From theme parks to comic books to radio stations to movies, Disney has its paws in practically every entertainment medium in existence.
One area it doesn’t already have full ownership in, however, is video games. While there are countless examples of Disney-licensed games, they are all created by developers outside the mouse’s house. Disney-owned properties like Marvel have games made by Insomniac and Square Enix, which results in the company not having full-ownership of these titles.
Additionally, EA specifically is responsible for creating games for a different Disney-owned franchise: Star Wars. Earlier this year, EA subsidiary Respawn Entertainment announced it would develop three new Star Wars games. However, after that, EA made clear it would shift focus to its own properties. With the success of the recent EA Star Wars titles, Disney would likely want to change that decision.
Although Epic Games is a more recent player on the field, underestimating the company would be a mistake. While the company’s monumental growth wouldn’t happen until years later, its invention of Unreal Engine in 1998 paved the way for the future of gaming. To this day, Unreal Engine is one of the most widely used graphics engines within the entire industry.
In addition Epic is responsible for creating the era-defining battle royale game Fortnite. The company also plays its cards in the industry by directly competing with Steam. Since launching in 2018, the Epic Games Store quickly grew to become the second largest online game store for PC. In fact, just between 2019 and 2020, Epic Games store grew its library from 190 to 471 available games.
Epic is also no stranger to acquisitions. In 2019, the company also purchased Psyonix LLC, officially gaining the rights to esports phenomenon Rocket League. As Epic Games continues earning millions of dollars in revenue every year, the modern giant likely has its sights set on further expansion.
Should we be scared of an EA merger?
Regardless of who purchases EA, however, another acquisition will definitely shake up the gaming landscape. With unprecedented amounts of mergers within the video game industry this year, seeing another major publisher for sale poses understandable concern. As with all things in life, there’s both good and bad to these mergers.
On one hand, we may see new games and crossovers that otherwise may never have existed. Yet, on the other hand, creativity could stagnate with limited competition in the market and more titles could become exclusive. Competition always breeds innovation, and a lack thereof often cripples it in favor of cash-grabs.
While EA is notorious for unnecessary DLC for the sake of making players purchase additional content, it remains concerning to see it absorbed into another larger company. But what do you think? Should we be concerned about who buys EA? And who is the most likely company to get their hands on it? As always, share your thoughts with us down in the comments!