Electronic Arts has reportedly joined the ranks of big-name publishers seeking acquisition. According to a report by Puck, EA has spoken to companies like Amazon, Disney, and Apple as it pursues sales options, while talks progressing with NBCUniversal recently fell through.
Though it fizzled out, a possible deal between EA and NBCUniversal may have been among the gaming giant’s most fruitful merger talks, with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts proposing “to spin off NBCUniversal and merge the media and gaming giants.” The Puck report says an EA and NBC deal would have put EA CEO Andrew Wilson in charge of the newly merged entity. However, talks between the companies “ultimately fell apart within the last month due to disagreements over price and structure.”
While the NBCUniversal negotiations didn’t pan out, EA remains “persistent” in other options, with its urgency spurred by Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard. EA’s terms for a deal prioritize Wilson remaining CEO, and the chief executive allegedly approached Disney last March. Puck’s sources described those talks as more than licensing agreements but did not speak to their exact nature.
Consolidation and monopolies have long been a concern across all forms of media for decades now, but the games industry has experienced a notable escalation in these types of deals within the last few years. Recent billion-dollar acquisitions include the aforementioned Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard deal, Take-Two buying mobile developer Zynga, and Microsoft’s other splurge with its Bethesda buy.
Media and tech conglomerates are spurred by pandemic-era economic slumps, betting on an industry that continued to grow while most declined. However, some deals have yet to close, and the Federal Trade Commission seems poised to investigate some of the industry’s most prominent transactions over antitrust concerns. The FTC has made no move to block pending games deals, but some US senators have urged the regulatory body to investigate the Microsoft deal with Activision. The FTC reportedly has its eye on other games industry deals, too, with news on a probe into Sony’s Bungie acquisition surfacing earlier this month.