With the initial sale of Activision Blizzard to Microsoft, no major video game publisher is off the buying table, including Electronic Arts, the often controversial giant of Madden, Apex Legends and Battlefield.
A new story from subscription news service Puck says a whole bunch of big companies have been Spins EA is into both entertainment and technology, including Amazon, Disney, and Apple. But what almost happened was the merger with NBC Universal, as Comcast-NBCU President Brian Roberts intended to separate NBCU and merge it with Electronic Arts.
The report says the deal collapsed last month, part of a series of failures from Comcast-NBCU that also failed to sell FOX entertainment assets, losing the WarnerMedia merger of those assets. The idea here was that this newly merged company could make a huge impact in gaming, but in the end the deal didn’t get passed.
While the merger with the NBCU and EA is almost always the crux of the story, the fact that Disney, Apple and Amazon have been reported as potentially interested in EA may actually be a bigger deal. Microsoft and Sony buy independent publishers big and small, some really small, some really huge, and there are quite a few that fade over time.
The rest are making moves that all point to a potential sale in the future. We have this EA story, we’ve seen similar actions surrounding Ubisoft lately. Square Enix has just sold a few Western developers which might be a potential slimmer for someone like Sony to sell.
But what lies behind all this is Big Tech and Big Entertainment. In the case of entertainment, video games are larger than the TV and film industries combined. Disney has grown their own Star Wars and Marvel IP addresses to a large number of developers after they exited the industry themselves, but they may now realize that this may have been the wrong move. Same goes for NBCU/Comcast, who clearly saw the value in space if this merger happened roughly.
Meanwhile, the big tech companies have more money from God (well, less so after this month in the market, but still). Amazon has its own in-house gaming ambitions, but it’s painfully small compared to its overall size. It has a game streaming service that no one has ever heard of (Luna!) and only two games of no real score, Lost Ark and New World (Lost Ark was an existing game they moved west, New World isn’t exactly healthy). So a massive buyout might be a way to come back.
Apple is always cruising in the gaming space due to the iOS game market, which recently sparked controversy due to Epic Games’ war against them and their 30% store reduction. But Apple’s purchase of EA to publish games widely would be a different kind of move altogether. And even if it doesn’t, it shows that they’re looking. Lord knows what Google and Meta may be up to.
What is clear is that the video game industry will continue to consolidate, and it seems increasingly likely that the next giant purchase made, may not be from Sony or Microsoft, but someone outside the industry who wants to be a gamer, whether they’re coming from entertainment or technology.
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