December 14, 2020
Well, that was unexpected. Codemasters, the British developer behind countless racing franchises including Dirt, Project Cars and the annualized F1 games, has been snapped up by EA. A little more than a month ago, Take-Two Interactive, the owner of 2K and Rockstar Games, announced that it had reached an agreement with Codemasters’ board. That deal valued the racing studio at a little under $1 billion. Today, the board confirmed that “it has withdrawn its recommendation of the Take-Two offer” and put its weight behind the EA acquisition instead. No reason was given, but we’re guessing that money played a role in the decision. The deal with EA, after all, values Codemasters at $1.2 billion.
EA already owns the Need for Speed and Burnout franchises. Neither series in a great place right now, though. Ghost Games developed Need for Speed Rivals (2013), Need for Speed (2015), Need for Speed Payback (2017) and Need for Speed Heat (2019), all of which received mixed reviews. Earlier this year, EA renamed the developer and turned it into a support-focused engineering studio. The Need for Speed licence, meanwhile, was given to Criterion Games, the Guildford-based studio behind Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, (2010) and Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012). Criterion also worked on Burnout Paradise (2008), the last major entry in the racing series.
EA could easily use Codemasters to support Criterion’s highly-anticipated return to the Need for Speed franchise. The buyer also believes that it can help Codemasters with live service operations, analytics and other technology-focused areas, such as art and motion capture. EA wants to use its marketing expertise to expand the fanbase around Codemasters’ existing franchises, too. “Our industry is growing, the racing category is growing, and together we will be positioned to lead in a new era of racing entertainment,” Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA said. EA and Codemasters’ collective might could also put some pressure on the teams behind Forza Motorsport, Forza Horizon and Gran Turismo.
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