Electronic Arts, the publisher of Battlefield, FIFA and The Sims games, is actively looking for a buyer or another company to merge with, with major companies interested in the fast-growing game industry in recent years.
The video game company has been in talks with a number of different potential buyers or partners, including Disney, Apple and Amazon.
It is not clear which of them was interested in buying the entire Electronic Arts and which was looking to merge. But in the event of a merger, the gaming company is seeking a deal that would allow Andrew Wilson to remain as CEO of the combined company.
In February, Wilson indicated that the company was focusing on acquisitions rather than acquisitions. As evidence of this, it has spent $5 billion over the past year buying studios to grow its size.
But it now appears that the company is aggressively seeking other ways to expand. Wilson reached out to Disney in March in an effort to establish a more meaningful relationship that would go beyond licensing deals.
However, Disney has decided not to go ahead as it is currently focused on the emerging streaming service. But the idea of a merger between Electronic Arts and ESPN, which is partly owned by Disney, is on the table.
The news comes as EA has lost or abandoned some of its biggest current licensing deals. The company recently revealed three new Star Wars games that are currently in production.
But its exclusive deal with Disney for a Star Wars license will not be renewed when it expires in 2023.
EA also revealed that it is ending a similar 10-year exclusive deal with FIFA and, starting in 2023, is rebranding the popular soccer series EA Sports FC.
Electronic Arts laid off 200 employees
Of all the potential partners, Comcast was the closest to closing the deal. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts made an offer to Wilson to merge NBCUniversal with Electronic Arts.
Roberts was looking to separate the entertainment conglomerate into a separate entity with EA, with Wilson in charge of the new mega business.
Under the deal, Roberts was supposed to have a majority in the combined company, while Wilson would remain chief executive.
But the people involved did not agree on the selling price and the structure of the joint entity, and the agreement expired within the last month.
Over the past year, video game studio acquisitions have been brisk. Its pace picked up in January after Take-Two announced it was buying Zynga for $12.7 billion.
Electronic Arts is still a private company today. But it has become more aggressive in its pursuit of a sale or merger since Microsoft announced its acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.
Shortly after Microsoft announced the acquisition, Sony also revealed that it had bought Bungie studio for $3.6 billion.
This price was considered by some analysts significantly overstated and a sign of a massive rush to merge among the biggest players in the gaming industry.
While a merger or acquisition deal is not currently in the works, it doesn’t look like the Battlefield maker and FIFA are planning to give up anytime soon.
An EA spokesperson said: “The company does not comment on rumors and speculation regarding mergers and acquisitions. We are proud to be operating from a position of strength and growth, with a range of incredible games, built around intellectual property, created by talented teams, and a network of over half a billion players. We see a very bright future ahead.