Analysts Question Riccitiello’s “White Knight” Comment

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Several analysts have weighed in on Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello’s remarks about Take-Two and Rockstar Games, saying his choice of words may have been inappropriate and disrespectful.

Speaking to the New York Times last week about the possibility of Rockstar declining to become part of the EA stable should the company succeed in its attempt to acquire Take-Two Games, Riccitiello suggested the high-profile developer would be better off with EA, which could offer them greater stability and a broader audience for their games. “We, in many ways, represent a white knight,” Riccitiello said.

But some industry analysts contacted by GameDaily questioned his choice of language and assumptions about Rockstar. David Cole of DFC Intelligence said expanding its audience isn’t something Rockstar needs to be concerned about. “I would think with how successful the GTA games have been the issue hasn’t been getting them to a wider audience,” he said. “The issue is really more about shareholder value and whether EA is a white knight for Take-Two shareholders by offering to pay them the maximum value they feel they can get.”

Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter claimed Riccitiello had misused the term, explaining, “‘White Knight’ usually signifies rescue from a hostile suitor (the connotation is to a damsel in distress). I think Riccitiello’s use of the term was incorrect, and perhaps a misplaced attempt to sound clever. They are in no sense a White Knight.”

Mike Hickey of Janco Partners went even further in his strongly-worded assessment. “My belief is Rockstar would be perfectly happy if EA never put a bid in at all,” he said. “White knight commentary is total bullshit, and disrespectful to both the developers at TTWO and the new management team that has already achieved success.”

Despite the concerns, however, most observers believe Rockstar would choose a deal with EA over outright independence, should Take-Two fall victim to a takeover. “Yes, Rockstar could go it alone, but they don’t own GTA,” Pachter added. “TTWO owns the IP, and it passes to whoever controls TTWO stock.”

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