With the finalization of Activision-Blizzard’s acquisition by Microsoft imminent, EA is on the cusp of taking its place as the largest major standalone developer and publisher in the industry. Which of course has sparked plenty of questions about whether or not EA itself might one day be acquired.
One of those rumors cropped up last May in a Puck report that revealed EA had been approached by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts about a potential acquisition — but it fell apart due to disagreements over price and structure.
Though EA has repeatedly declined to comment on “rumors and speculation,” CEO Andrew Wilson did answer a question on the subject of acquisitions during today’s Q1 earnings call, reiterating that he didn’t think the publisher could “be in a stronger position as a standalone company.”
Activision Blizzard Deal Compared to Other Major Acquisitions
“Our…objective is always to take care of our people, our players, and our shareholders,” he continued. “Should there ever be a way for us to do that differently than the way we’re doing it today, I of course have to be open to that, but I would tell you today we feel very very confident and excited for our future.”
It was indeed a successful quarter for EA, with F1 22 sales up double-digits compared to F1 last year, and overall net revenue of $1.78 billion (up from $1.55 billion year-over-year) largely driven by live service games — which now represent over 70% of its business for the last 12 months. And unlike a number of its fellows, it doesn’t seem to have been overly impacted by delays (or at least not a pile of public-facing ones). In fact, its next three quarters are looking fairly promising between the Dead Space remake, all the usual sports games, Super Mega Baseball, and two other unannounced games coming in early 2023.
It’s worth noting, however, that this is the sort of boilerplate statement that pretty much every CEO has made regarding acquisitions of late. Ubisoft has said as much, and so has Take-Two. Statements like this when confronted with acquisition questions are pretty standard, as they both keep the CEO from actually lying if an acquisition is being discussed, but also don’t invite too much speculation given the numerous legal and business reasons why executives can’t confirm or deny until the deal is almost sealed.
What’s more, companies like EA are constantly discussing acquisitions, both in terms of what they might want to acquire, and whether or not they could be acquired. Conversations happen multiple times a year; they just usually fall through because the two sides more often than not can’t fully agree on a deal that works for them both.
Will EA one day be acquired? Maybe, maybe not. What’s certain is that it will likely continue to be approached with offers while also making offers of its own, and with Activision-Blizzard snapped up, EA is in one of the best positions in the industry to either refuse deals, or cut an extremely lucrative one.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.