BioWare & Pandemic: The Fatted Calves?

BioWare & Pandemic: The Fatted Calves?

Regardless of the motivations and intentions that might have led to the deal, the endgame played out with Riccitiello returning as CEO of Electronic Arts in February of this year, relinquishing his roles as Managing Director of Elevation Partners and CEO of VG Holdings. In his wake, Greg Richardson, himself a former Electronic Arts general manager, was named to the new CEO position at VG Holdings. The $860 million dollar deal would be the biggest in Electronic Arts' history.

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"In the deal, BioWare and Pandemic were merged under a company called VG Holdings, which would manage the business operations of the companies while relinquishing creative control to the two developers."

works abotu as well as telling a dev you can make what you want but you can't do this this this or this....and not that either.


its nice they have a buffer but the buffer will be burnt out in less than 20 months....

I don't know... does it really matter if EA is brilliantly evil or fortuitously evil? They're still evil.

Seriously though, very cool article. ;-)

I can only pray that EA treats Bioware with the same respect Microsoft afforded Bungie.

Again, Bioware doesn't have very much IP, and their most high-profile games have all been based on someone else's IP. They've been trying to fix that in recent years, but EA didn't buy anything but a lot of technology, development acumen and reputation.

Pandemic, same deal. Most of the IP they came up with is not their property, but they've been happily working on that of their publishers or selling the rights to new properties they've come up with.

Neither of them had ever worked with EA before, and it stands to reason someone at their shops didn't want to.

The recent round of layoffs didn't impress me much. But this is the game industry, and one of two things is going to happen: 1) EA will let their new fish continue making games the way they have been, or 2) they'll monkey with the works to the point where the work degrades to nothingness, principals of the companies break off (Pandemic was formed by execs who bailed from Activision) and form new shops, taking several more years to form a base of operations to rival their past selves before they release anything new of consequence.

Think how long it's been since Westwood shut down, and how long it took Petroglyph to get Empire At War out, followed by Universe At War later this year. EA can play their musical chairs, but so can the hired help. And so can their customers, if those who follow the news keep thinking of the EA tag as two scarlet letters.

Excellent article, Sean.

I thought it was a poor article (not a knock on the writer, just the central premise.)

BioWare & Pandemic sold out to a private equity firm. The goals of Elevation Partners are clearly set out. Buy. Add Value in two step strategy. Exit. The end.

This idea that the owners of BioWare/Pandemic sold out to secure future independence is ludicrous. An IPO was an absolute non-starter. This ruled out (so we are looking at a complete buyout within a few years), who would be a realistic buyer? Microsoft or Sony? No chance. You are left then with another private equity firm, a media giant (NewsCorp, Vivendi et al) or one of the large publishers. Surprise, surprise, EA (the most likely buyers by far) end up the owners.

I think i have to agree with eclipser99 really.

Well, if you don't find the shared, close-knit management of Elevation, Bioware/Pandemic, and EA interesting, with Ric standing to make millions from the acquisition, I don't know what to tell you.

It's safe to say, after the fact, that hidden agendas were obvious. Safe, but disingenuous. If you'll recall the media blitz of the past year, Elevation was setting itself up as an enlightened media partner. Granted, it's generally no surprise when a holding company offloads a company in which it has an interest, but in this case, the specifics of the deal are more than a little damning. Not to mention embarrassing for the folks at Bioware and Pandemic.

It was a little hard to swallow the notion that Bioware wanted to remain the champions of independent development when they were selling out. Except, I didn't hear any "indie spirit" speeches coming from Bioware. Just their fans.


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