Last month, the game industry was rocked by news that two top independent developers, BioWare and Pandemic Studios, were merging. The news was especially unsettling because it aimed to circumvent the traditional publisher-developer relationship by the infusion of outside funds. The funds in question came courtesy of Elevation Partners, the Silicon Valley venture-capital outfit, which engaged in a bidding war with SCi Games for Tomb Raider publisher Eidos Interactive earlier this year.
The BioWare/Pandemic deal was brokered by former Electronic Arts president John Riccitiello, who sits on the diverse Elevation Partners board, which includes Bono, lead singer of the rock band U2. He told the New York Times the old way of doing business runs the risk of "leaving game companies frustrated, consumers frustrated and gamers frustrated." He said the goal of the new BioWare/Pandemic business model was to give the newly joined studios more creative control, which would make for better games.
Riccitiello, who is also CEO of BioWare/Pandemic Studios, told the Times he plans on turning the new superdeveloper into a publicly traded company. His thoughts were echoed by Pandemic president Josh Resnick, who told GameSpot that he hopes his new company will be like a game version of computer-animation powerhouse Pixar, which remains independent from major film studios.
However, game-industry analysts are very skeptical of the deal. "They don't have any chance of success," said Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities, who said investors prefer larger media multinationals to smaller, purely creative companies.