FTC OKs BioWare/Pandemic buyout

US government sees nothing amiss with Electronic Arts' $860 million purchase of Canadian/Californian megadeveloper.


Last month, Electronic Arts stunned the game industry by announcing it was purchasing BioWare/Pandemic. When it was created in November 2005 by the union of Canadian role-playing developer BioWare and Californian action-game studio Pandemic, the so-called superdeveloper looked set to buck the traditional developer-publisher relationship by tapping into $300 million from venture capital firm Elevation Partners.

However, when Elevation board member John Riccitiello became EA's CEO, he upped the ante by offering $860 million to buy BioWare/Pandemic outright. The deal would see the Redwood City, California-based publisher pay $620 million in cash to the stockholders of VG Holding Corp., the Elevation-backed holding company that owns BioWare/Pandemic.

In addition, the publisher plans to issue an additional $155 million in equity to unidentified VG Holding employees, as well as assume $50 million in outstanding VG stock options. It also will lend VG $35 million to fund BioWare/Pandemic's transition to becoming wholly owned subsidiaries of EA--though the studios will retain their names and current locations.

Though many EA detractors decried the deal, the only official hoop it had to jump through was landing approval from the Federal Trade Commission. Today, the Thomson Financial news service reported that the US government body has given its blessing to the BioWare/Pandemic even before the 30-day period required by federal law expired. Now, barring a stockholder revolt, nothing stands in the way of the acquisition being finalized in January 2008.

Though it drew a mixed reaction from analysts, the buyout of BioWare/Pandemic bolsters the largest third-party publisher's lineup with some marquee franchises. EA will own the Full Spectrum Warrior, Saboteur, and Mercenaries series and collect royalties on the Destroy All Humans! and Star Wars Battlefront games Pandemic developed.

The deal also makes EA a major player in the RPG market, adding Jade Empire and the forthcoming Mass Effect and Dragon Age to its trophy case. The deal will also have EA overseeing BioWare's partnership with LucasArts on an unnamed project--which is rumored to be a massively multiplayer online RPG based on the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 141 comments about this story
141 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for luke_flystalker

it happen's

Avatar image for spunkymulvagh

I smell a rat

Avatar image for wEary4

jimdog16, don't worry! game devl'p CANNOT be tampered with!! How can they mess with their own assets! If directors know what their doing their aim is to CONTINUE BioWare's stunning performance :)

Avatar image for jimdog16

This is rather daft, It just seems as though EA see's something they can make profit from then exploit it sensless. At this point im thinking just stick to the sims & leave the Rpg's to the people with the know how please. Im willing to be proven wrong, but mass effect has been the first game i have been genuinly excited about & i cannot help but worry about it's fate after being put into the hands of EA. Time will tell.

Avatar image for OfficialJab

I'm all for EA taking the littler companies under it's wing. So many are time and budget constrained for their games, and this way EA can throw a bunch of money at them and say "make sure it gets finished right". I dont know if I've ever played a half-completed, unpolished EA published game. I think they're hated on because they're a "big evil corporation dumping on the little guy" which is dumb. If your favourite company finds itself under EA, then be happy, you're going to see a lot more of your favourite series' in the future.

Avatar image for flawless_blade

If EA messes up Mass Effect.... We're gonna need some ninjas. Not that Mass Effect isn't gonna still be completely AWESOME. So my message to EA is don't screw up Bioware, OR ELSE (insert chuck norris fact here) !

Avatar image for GriffinLord602

To Kira989 ; I think people accuse EA of ruining Bioware the most (accident or not accident) because Bioware are such a high standard company, and they make the most beautiful and detailed RPG's, eg. KOTOR, this years Mass effect. But by EA's experience with the rpg genre, people think that EA will automatically ruin them by interfearing to much, but in my view, i think EA has realised that they will have a high rated company on their hands, so their not gonna interfear with things they dont really understand much about (RPG genre)... thats my view

Avatar image for LordN3on

Hmmm? Dunno what to say to this. Alarming? Exciting? O.o

Avatar image for DFalcon999

Yeah, Ideally, if EA really does just give the duo money and free reign to do what they want, only taking in some of the profits, this would be GOOD news. Possibly even great or legendary news. But let's look at facts EA has a track record of buying out companies, squeezing what they can out of them, then destroying them, keeping only the name, and in some cases, they even destroy that. Cases in point Origin Westwood Bullfrog Maxis (partially, Will Wright's power remains and he saved some of it's former employees with it) Kesmai If the studios weren't enough, there's also the series attached to them to consider KIA Ultima (not the online game, the REAL Ultima series) Dungeon Keeper Wing Commander (don't you dare mention the badly-done, cheap cash-in Xbox Live Arcade game. The online MANUAL for it was 10x more "wing commander" and fun than the game itself was) I'm sure there's probably more, but I just gave some of the best examples. Now I hope the uninformed will be enllightened as to why most of us are skeptical at BEST.

Avatar image for CowMan07

hmmmmmm so mercs 2 multiplayer for ps2 might be back on

Avatar image for Rect_Pola

As long as EA permits the two houses to build freely like they did before, I have no issues. It's just going to "officially" be an EA property so they get some of the pie.

Avatar image for zidan4000

i hope they dont change anything in mass effect and leave it as its so it will be the last good bioware game , now EA have it , it will be totally ruined and everybody knows why.

Avatar image for eeo10


Avatar image for catu16alx

i wonder what game this company alliance will bring us next year. they shuld know we will have high expectations considering what bioware brought us in the past

Avatar image for PTMags

Kira, it's because EA's #1 priority is profits. So, when Bioware asks for another six months of development and another couple million in funding big brother EA is going to say no and push the product out the doors ASAP. Sadly, this is the case with a lot of publishers however. There is some hope though, due to the fact that John Riccitiello has history with Bioware/Pandemic. Hopefully he won't screw them over now that they're under the EA umbrella.

Avatar image for iuns

Mass effect looked good aswell..... but now EA have it......

Avatar image for Kira989

i dont understand why this is such a terrible thing... The way i see it.. Now Bioware has more money to make even better games... Sure they are all going to be Multi-platform because thats what EA does but is that really a bad thing for us as Gamers! I just dont understand why everyone is suspected EA to have some big plot to ruin Bioware/Pandemic!!

Avatar image for neodare

I am curious, the article mentioned that the FTC OK'ed the deal and "nothing stands in the way of the acquisition being finalized in January 2008." but last time I checked Bioware was a Canadian company, couldn't the Canadian Securities Commissions step in and say that this isn't ok? I am not saying lets stop the deal, business is business, I am just criticizing the article for thinking that the FTC has any right to dictate Canadian Business practices. Did the author (Tor Thorsen) research this or is this just an assumption? I must note that I might be off base here because Bioware's shares could be on an American Exchange, which might give the FTC full say on this, but I am pretty sure that to acquire a Canadian Corporation both the FTC and Canadian Securities Commissions must give their OK.

Avatar image for Dreski83

with that much money being bounced around you would think something was up, but i feel its more of a matter in power and pull. not saying EA pulled any funny business, its just a fact of modern day life that with enough zero's you can make some major pull in just about any facet of business. hopefully with the Riccitiello dude calling shots at EA nothing goes sour with such valuable properties in their grips.

Avatar image for Darktiger12

Um mabay EA has secertly bought the US government and is now planning to rule the world.

Avatar image for sousuke223

the only time us govt would stop if ea became had a monopoly of video game developing which it doesnt...yet

Avatar image for thekey

Anything goes in America just as long as the Gov't. gets there cut. EA buy KFC , MCdonalds and Ikea, and the US could careless.

Avatar image for Autolycus

10 years ago, this would not have passed, but the United States cares about big business more then its citizen, so thats why it was okay.

Avatar image for zaphod_b

Hopefully this will not immediately interfere with Bioware's incredible imagination and talent, but this is but one more step in the consolidation of the industry that will ultimately destroy competition. Hopefully EA will not use this opportunity to dilute Bioware's talent.

Avatar image for GriffinLord602

EA will have a good company on their hands, Bioware probably one of the most formiddable RPG makers in the world are good at what they do, so I suggest that EA lets Bioware get on with what their doing, and fund them if they need it cause... well their worth it, and i hope that EA wont bugger it up. The same goes for Pandemic, which is a credit to EA and would help making those action games more impressive.

Avatar image for zeroXcreep

This could be bad for Bioware, but, Bioware games are fricken amazing, so I'm confident that EA won't bugger around with them too much. The only thing that bothers me a lot about this is that a Canadian company sold itself to an American one, I took joy in the fact that one of the best RPG developers was Canadian.

Avatar image for demoralizer

BioWare R.I.P

Avatar image for MSG-Deathscythe

the subheading to this article read: "US government sees nothing amiss with Electronic Arts' $860 million purchase of Canadian/Californian megadeveloper." everyone except the us govt saw MONOPOLY written all over this acquisition ... and we pay these people's salaries.

Avatar image for PTMags

EA is the devil, not even Bioware/Pandemic could resist the lure of the darkside.

Avatar image for Blackstaff

Holopaw, EA always messes with the games of companies they buy. Just look at Westwood; EA basically told them what to do for Renegade, and it wasnt that great of a game.. and since it underperformed (because of EA's involvement) Westwood was dissolved and molded into EA.

Avatar image for Holopaw

Why the f would EA mess with any of the games Bioware or Pandemic create? There would be no reason too, their games are great the way they are. People are treating EA like the Nazis', which is understandable to a point, but come on. Im playing on a console that is made by one of the biggest culpable corporations today that is fitting of the title of monopoly, and I love it.

Avatar image for dutch777

yep, bad feeling about this.

Avatar image for V-Nine

There is something amiss and this is the best I've seen it hidden. This could chain link into something else. Wonder if they are still after Ubisoft or I could be mistaken.

Avatar image for Juno2_17

I don't know, but for some reason this does not sit right with me. I have a bad feeling. Ah well. At least E.A. isn't a money sucking black hole like S.O.E. Oh wait...

Avatar image for anoking


Avatar image for gamer082009

Good point "andrew_ribbons," I do agree with you. They always go after Microsoft because they're good at what they do. I do see a little bias going on. To me it seems like EA is trying to monopolize the industry and love being greedy. They've already done it with securing exclusive rights to the NFL license now they're buying competitive brands. This definitely can't be looked at as good..the more EA buys, the more us gamers are gonna be fed lazy crapola EA same ol same ol year after year (it takes away from innovation). The only way we can stop this is to show them we mean business with our wallets.

Avatar image for efrench9

Mass Effect will deliver son

Avatar image for backbreaker98

im not even getting mass effect im only sticking with oblivion as far as rpgs and i hardly play that

Avatar image for ColdGen

Pandemic have an Australian studio too dickhead.

Avatar image for nirnaeth

can someone tell me how Mass Effect isn't going to be the best game ever?

Avatar image for The_Consequence

This won't change Bioware, EA just gets money from them. They are good enough that they will have free reign, and with EA as their owner, they have access to more resources than they used to have. It's actually a very good move for EA, since Mass Effect is almost guaranteed to be a hit.

Avatar image for MonkeyStew

what the crap!?!???? i'm going to miss BioWare. i'll never forgive freakin EA.

Avatar image for Luthorcrow

I don't blame EA as they doing what corporations do but I do blame the toothless FTC. I can only assume that because most of their leadership problem don't play games they are unaware of the monopoly that is EA.

Avatar image for Frags-o-Plenty

It's because EA already owns the FTC. Shocked?

Avatar image for andrew_ribbons

Microsoft get's told off by th EU Trade Federation and fined, because of simpy "incluing Windows Media Player in Windows, anti-competitively....yet this deal goes through the net??!?! *que extremely violent rampage* Why the HELL can nothing in this world be RIGHT?!??!

Avatar image for OremLK

This isn't about Canada, it's about the death of the greatest independent developer around. RIP, BioWare, I'll miss you terribly.

Avatar image for jaredcrazy3232

specific_oceans, agreed, but hey at least rbc owns sentura and that major sports center in the us

Avatar image for specific_oceans

First The HBC, then Tim Hortons and now Bioware, what's next? Come on USA let us Canadians have something. we beseech you!

Avatar image for Kounji

Steel_Cyclone: The FTC isn't worthless bioware and pandemic while both notable are not the entirety of the gaming industry. If EA attempts to purchase ubisoft and the FTC does nothing then there might be grounds to report them as asleep at the wheel. EA is doing just about everything a corporation needs to do in this industry to stay successful. I wonder if ea would try to acquire bungie. That seems like a very good fit actually for the developer as far as console fps would be for their portfolio. If the current ceo is very keen on letting his star developers do what they need to do stay creative. That's good.

Avatar image for Steel_Cyclone

The FTC is worthless.