EA Admits That Gobbling Up Talented Studios Then Ruining Them Isn't Working Out So Well

from the now-witness-the-firepower-of-this-fully-armed-and-operational-battle-station dept

EA, a company right up there with Comcast in terms of consumer disdain, has a long and proud history of gobbling up talented developers, then either obliterating them outright, or homogenizing them until the products are the very pinnacle of bland. Studios like Bullfrog, Westwood Studios, and Origin were all near legendary game developers when acquired, but are now little more than fond memories after ham-fisted attempts to cash in on the catalogs (Ultima IX, anyone?). Other studios like Maxis were similarly legendary, but now struggle to put out rushed, highly-flawed simulacrum under the EA banner.

After twenty years of such stumbling, scorched-earth acquisitions, EA's bloated belly appears to be full, and the company has finally decided that perhaps it should focus on developing content with the acquired talent army it already has. Company CFO Blake Jorgensen would even go so far as to admit EA's history with such acquisitions is "marginal" at best:
"I think our history with acquisitions is somewhat marginal in performance," Jorgensen said when asked if EA has identified any acquisition targets in the industry. "We have some that are spectacular, and some that didn't do so well. It's a headcount business, right? You're buying headcount, and that's always difficult to manage in acquisitions. It doesn't mean we won't do them, but I think where we've been most successful is in smaller acquisitions that we've integrated very quickly."
In other words, EA finally has all the talent it needs to keep rolling out barely-interesting Madden after Madden updates (shielded from competition via their exclusive NFL arrangement) and a decade of new, semi-interesting Star Wars games courtesy of its deal with Disney. If EA's stock is any indication, investors think EA has learned a thing or two about making friends with consumers, and the company claims it's working hard to change its customer reputation in the market (EA gave away several free games as a promotional effort over the weekend). Though dysfunction may just be grafted to EA's genetic code, 2015 might be the year that Ubisoft steals EA's consumer annoyance crown.

Filed Under: acquisitions, studios, video games
Companies: ea


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  1. identicon
    JEDIDIAH, 11 Dec 2014 @ 12:09pm

    Westwood part deux

    Game programming is especially specialized and game programmers increasingly likely to flee a bad situation. This is especially true of the core talent that may just take their ball and go home.

    The serious talent will flee an EA acquisition and set up their own shop.

    This even happens with stuff like Oracle buying Sun. Never mind seriously creative types.

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