EA rolls DICE for $23 million

Megapublisher buys up remainder of Battlefield maker, (finally) bringing storied franchise in-house.

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Electronic Arts and Digital Illusions CE have been engaged in one of the longest courtships in game-industry history. After the release of the ultrasuccessful Battlefield 1942 in 2002, the latter--who was the game's publisher--began scooping up stock in the former. In 2004, EA announced its intentions to acquire DICE--intentions that were endorsed by the Swedish developer's board. As of March 2005, the megapublisher had acquired more than 60 percent of the developer's stock.

In March 2006, EA announced its intention to buy DICE lock, stock, and barrel. Now, seven months later, it has finally done so. Today, the California-based company announced that it had completed its takeover of the Stockholm-based developer. According to EA, DICE will now be a "fully integrated EA studio dedicated to growing the Battlefield franchise and developing new products for the PC, next-generation consoles, and other new platforms."

According to a joint press release, EA paid 175.5 million Swedish kroner--some $23.9 million--to acquire the "assets and liabilities of DICE," which presumably means all the outstanding stock in the company. Shareholders in the studio will receive some 67.50 kroner ($9.27) per share in cash in exactly two weeks' time.

Patrick Soderlund, the former CEO and presumably a current large shareholder of DICE, was understandably pleased by the deal. "Being part of the EA studio team is a great step forward that will help us continue to deliver new games and new franchises to DICE fans," he said in a statement. "We've been working very closely with EA for the past five years, and this is a very natural step for us as we move into the next generation of gaming." Soderlund will now become an EA Studio general manager overseeing DICE and its management team, which will remain unchanged.

The next game from EA and DICE will be the PC shooter Battlefield 2142, which is set to ship in North America on October 17. No next-gen console plans for the game have been announced.

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