EA's BioWare/Pandemic buyout official

Publisher's $860 million purchase of acclaimed RPG- and action-oriented shops finalized; former studio heads named VP, general managers under EA Games label.

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With the Federal Trade Commission giving Electronic Arts the go-ahead in November to acquire VG Holding Corp.--owners of acclaimed development studios BioWare and Pandemic--it was only a matter of time before the $860 million deal announced in October was official. The clock hit zero on the massive buyout today, as Electronic Arts has finalized the sale that brings BioWare and Pandemic into the fold under its EA Games publishing label.

Former BioWare cofounders and presidents Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk will now hold VP positions at EA and have been named co-general managers of BioWare. Likewise, Pandemic's Andrew Goldman and Josh Resnick have been named EA VPs and co-general managers of Pandemic Studios. Greg Borrud, former director of production at Pandemic, has also been appointed to EA VP and will take on the role as chief production officer at Pandemic.

Though the jury is still out on whether the economics of the deal warrant the purchase price, the buyout significantly bolsters EA's presence in the action, adventure, and role-playing game markets. BioWare brings to the table a number of highly acclaimed RPG properties, including Mass Effect, Jade Empire, and Dragon Age, as well as an unannounced massively multiplayer RPG rumored to be based on the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic franchise. From Pandemic, EA has secured the Full Spectrum Warrior, Saboteur, and Mercenaries franchises, as well as rights to collect royalties on the Destroy All Humans! and Star Wars Battlefront games Pandemic developed.

While the buyout at the time further solidified EA as the largest third-party publisher in the world, the massive deal was trumped in December on news that French megacorp Vivendi would be merging its games division with Santa Monica-based Activision in a deal valued at $18.9 billion.

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