With Activision Blizzard’s tentative sale to Microsoft, no major video game publisher is off the table for purchase, which includes Electronic Arts, the giant, often controversial purveyor of games like Madden, Apex Legends and Battlefield.
A new story from subscription news service Puck reports that a whole bunch of major companies have been circling EA in both entertainment and tech, including Amazon, Disney and Apple. But what almost came to pass was a merger with NBC Universal, where the Comcast-NBCU chief, Brian Roberts, was going to spin off NBCU and merge it with Electronic Arts.
The report says the deal fell apart last month, part of a string of failures from Comcast-NBCU who also failed to land the FOX entertainment asset sale, and missed the WarnerMedia merger for those assets. The idea here was that this newly merged company could have a big impact in games, but ultimately the deal did not come to pass.
While the almost-merger with NBCU and EA is the crux of the story, the fact that Disney, Apple and Amazon were all reported to be potentially interested in EA may actually prove to be a bigger deal. Microsoft and Sony have been buying up large and small independent publishers, some teeny tiny, some truly enormous, and there are vanishingly few left the longer time goes on.
People gather at the Electronic Arts (EA) E3 press conference at the Hollywood Palladium in … [+]
Those that are left are making moves that all indicate possible sale in the future. We have this EA story, we’ve seen similar action surrounding Ubisoft as of late. Square Enix just sold off a few western developers which could be a potential slimming down for sale to someone like Sony.
But lurking behind all of this is Big Tech and Big Entertainment. In entertainment’s case, video games are larger than the TV and movie industries combined. Disney has farmed out its IPs like Star Wars and Marvel to loads of developers after mostly exiting the industry themselves, but perhaps now they’re realizing that was maybe the wrong move. The same goes for NBCU/Comcast, who clearly saw the value in the space if this merger almost happened.
Big Tech, meanwhile, has more money than god (well, less so after this month in the market, but still). Amazon has its in-house gaming ambitions, but they’re painfully small compared to its overall size. It has a game streaming service no one has ever heard of (Luna!) and just two games of any real consequence, Lost Ark and New World (Lost Ark was an existing game they simply moved west, New World is not exactly healthy). So a huge acquisition could be a way back in.
Apple is always hanging around the gaming space given the iOS games market, recently controversial due to Epic Games’ war against them and the 30% store cut. But Apple buying EA to publish games at scale would be a different sort of move altogether. And even if that didn’t happen, it shows they’re looking. Lord knows what Google and Meta might be up to.
What’s clear is the video game industry will continue to consolidate, and it seems increasingly likely the next giant purchase that’s made, it may not be from Sony or Microsoft, but someone out of the industry who wants to be a player, whether they’re coming from entertainment or tech.
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Report: EA Sought After By Amazon, Disney, Apple, Nearly Merged With NBCU – Forbes