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Electronic Arts Up For Sale?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the take-a-check? dept.

Businesses 196

John Wagger writes "One of the world's largest gaming publishers and developers Electronic Arts has quietly put itself up for sale. While there have already been talks with private equity companies, the talks have not resulted in anything concrete. One of the sources is saying that EA would do the deal for $20 per share (currently at $14.02). Over the past year, EA's stock price has fallen 37 percent. Like other major game publishers, EA has been struggling against growing trend of social and mobile gaming."

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Stuggling versus mediocrity actually (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037669)

EA has a long history of pressuring developers to rush out projects before they are ready. If they claim they are struggling to compete with social gaming, it has way more to do with people not having to download 3 additional patches a game to get a finished product than social gaming being more popular.

Re:Stuggling versus mediocrity actually (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038299)

EA has a long history of pressuring developers to rush out projects before they are ready. If they claim they are struggling to compete with social gaming, it has way more to do with people not having to download 3 additional patches a game to get a finished product than social gaming being more popular.

With EA, the customer pays for patches and a finished game through DLC.

Releasing unfinished products and then using DLC to extract even more money from customers who have already started hating you isn't exactly a recipe for continued success.

As for "social gaming" (which really means casual gaming, because there's not much social about playing Angry Birds), that isn't a competitor. It's not like people buy a simple game instead of good games - it's an addition, played under different circumstances and times.

I'm not going to play Flight Simulator X, L4D2 or Borderlands during my lunch break. (Those are social games, by the way.) But I may play a game on my phone/tablet/PSP.

Re:Stuggling versus mediocrity actually (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038453)

Jim Sterling at Zero Punctuation [escapistmagazine.com] spells out in this videos EXACTLY why EA is in the shape its in, and it all comes down to screwing the customers. day one DLC, online passes for single player games, overdone DRM crap, watch the video because he gives a list of just one douchebag practice after another with EA. he says they are a perfect example of the bloated, overblown, grey sludge spewing corporate game publisher. Everything the industry does wrong? EA does it worse and I have to agree.

Once upon a time EA was a great gaming house, now they just spit out one more generic POS after another and like Symantec and MSFT just destroy any company that is stupid enough to be bought by then instead of using that talent to make even better games. Bullfrog, Westwood, the list of companies gutted by EA is a long one and in each case EA lost what could have been another great team making great products. So yeah no surprise here, company puts out overpriced garbage and treats its customers like crap, company goes to hell.

I'd love to see how much Origin cost them, my guess is that was the final boat anchor that sunk them as I know a LOT of people, myself included, that were lined up to buy a product for them and when we saw it was Origin said "fuck that!" and bought something else. I learned after GFWL that if it requires anything other than Steam to avoid like the plague, and the rep EA got for banhammering any customer that dared to complain about bad service was just the shit icing on the fail cake.

Re:Stuggling versus mediocrity actually (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038531)

You need to learn what Zero Punctuation is and what it is not...

Re:Stuggling versus mediocrity actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038627)

It's hairyfeet, were you expecting Earth shattering revelations into the game industry media?

Re:Stuggling versus mediocrity actually (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038799)

What frustrates me is this: the specific people who are responsible for these bad decisions will all ride out on golden parachutes. The punishment for their failures, and the near-universal hatred they earned, will be a life of wealth and luxury and (probably) another chance to pull the same crap again at a different company for even more wealth and luxury.

One thing is clear: humans are not very good at justice.

Re:Stuggling versus mediocrity actually (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038549)

Not only that but perhaps people are finally getting fed up of "Last Decade's Popular Title XIII" and such iterations. But hey, blame piracy, right? The sweetest thing is that while there may not be any more Electronic Arts games once this leviathan goes down, there will always be new and innovative games. Ubisoft should be next. SSI was great. Ubisoft showed promise but committed suicide.

Oh, totally. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037671)

Yep, it's totally the market and not the universal hatred that EA has garnered from the gaming community.

Meanwhile: http://www.gamesradar.com/valve-reports-seventh-year-100-sales-growth-steam/

Re:Oh, totally. (0)

John Wagger (2693019) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037761)

One thing you have to praise EA for is how they have still tried to bring 'different' games to the market. Mass Effect, Mirrors Edge etc are great examples of these.

What's funny is that EA is actually Valve's publisher partner. They both compete in online space, but EA publishes and brings Valve's games to traditional stores.

Re:Oh, totally. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037865)

EA are publishers, they sell other company's work. They've worked their way around the world gobbling up developers, stripping them of assets and staff, and land-grabbing IP. They made a lot of money, but the masses are easily diverted.

Re:Oh, totally. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037911)

EA had nothing to do with the original Mass Effect. You know, the only good game in the series.

Re:Oh, totally. (4, Interesting)

Psyborgue (699890) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037921)

EA did not create Mass Effect. It was BioWare who did that, who EA bought (and ruined). Just look at how they ruined the Old Republic MMO and the third Mass Effect's ending which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Everything EA touches turns to shit.

Re:Oh, totally. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038349)

Ah the touching and often unheard story of King Sadim.

After granting King Midas's wish, Dionysus turned to Sadim and asked what he would like the ability to transmute items too.

It was just then that Sadim stepped into a very large pile of satyr dung and shouted out the most regretful words, "Ahhh, shit!"

I did not know he had found work at EA.

Re:Oh, totally. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038671)

Everything EA touches turns to shit.

BioWare was shit before EA bought them.

Every BioWare game since Knights of the Old Republic has played exactly the same. Lone hero gathers friends to save the universe while romancing the cute members of the party.

Re:Oh, totally. (2)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038409)

EA had certain periods where they tried some new ideas, but mostly they just pump out sequel after sequel in tried and true genres. The sad part is how many small, innovative developers were gobbled up by EA only to be assimilated Borg-style (or just shut down completely).

Errant Signal [youtube.com] did a good overview of this topic that is well worth a look (and I normally hate Youtube talking heads).

Re:Oh, totally. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038435)

Mass Effect was completed prior to EA having involvment in Bioware. EA bought Bioware out a couple month before it was released. The original release of Mass Effect was done by Microsoft Game Studios. Also Mass Effect is not a different game. It was a title released by one of the best NA RPG makers who already had fame because games like Baldur's Gate and Knights of the Old Republic.

Re:Oh, totally. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038819)

No, I do not have to praise EA for that. Nor do I think it is true. And even if it were true (which it is not), they would have done a lousy job of it.

Social and mobile gaming trend? (5, Insightful)

DayTradingYankee (2694393) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037691)

Or perhaps they are struggling with the repercussions of how they treat their customers.

Re:Social and mobile gaming trend? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037717)

Or developers.

Re:Social and mobile gaming trend? (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038093)

I'm most familiar with Maxis, which they bought years ago, and from what I hear it's been a long, slow, EA-style attempt to strangle their creativity and success, which eventually worked. More and more formal management, accounting for your time, meetings, etc.

Most of the good developers that used to be there have left as it got more corporate: Chris Hecker [chrishecker.com] went indie (working on SpyParty), Richard Evans [wikipedia.org] went indie too (since acquired by Linden Labs, working on Cotillion), Chaim Gingold [levitylab.com] went indie and then went back to grad school, etc.

Re:Social and mobile gaming trend? (4, Insightful)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038361)

I still miss Westwood Studios... Once EA got their hooks into the Command & Conquer series, it all went down hill.

Re:Social and mobile gaming trend? (2)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037949)

Wishful thinking. Or did you miss the double- and triple-digit millions of dollars worth of new AAA games they're selling?

Customers, unfortunately, don't care. Those who actually take the time to talk about it here and elsewhere are the vocal minority.

Re:Social and mobile gaming trend? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038681)

He trick with publishers is while EA may beon the box it isnt always easy to spot until after you buy it

Publishing companies live in a strange isolated world. Isolated from mouthy end users( people who use product). Because of that it takes a long time to feel the pain of users screaming.

Re:Social and mobile gaming trend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037973)

Nailed it.

I stopped buying games made or backed by EA a long time ago.

Any company that releases broken games to make share holders happy will always fail in the long run.

Re:Social and mobile gaming trend? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038329)

This. I had a recent unpleasant experience with their customer service. Never again.

EA has been struggling (1)

Yosho-sama (800703) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037707)

by putting out the same shitty content for 60$+DLC over and over and reducing the player base as they escape to social gaming to find what they want.

Is still upset about Mass Effect 3.

Re:EA has been struggling (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037845)

by putting out the same shitty content for 60$+DLC over and over and reducing the player base as they escape to social gaming to find what they want.

Is still upset about Mass Effect 3.

Somewhere along the last decade EA (among others) forgot who its customers were, and even what the term customer means. Put the customer at the center of your business strategy and suprise surprise. Treat them like shit, and they will give you the finger.

Re:EA has been struggling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038035)

Is Ultima IX included in that time period? because that was brutally bad early EA.VIII kinda counts too.

Re:EA has been struggling (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038097)

They also forgot that they were selling luxury goods. A company like Oracle or Microsoft can get away with a certain amount of customer irritation because people use their products to make money and need to plan a migration strategy and spend money to switch away. A game publisher is not just competing with other game sellers, it's competing with other sources of entertainment for a finite budget. In a recession, luxury spending is the first thing that most people cut and that pushes down the supply of dollars that EA is competing for. They made it very easy for people to put them at the top of their spending cut list.

Don't go it alone... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037713)

Maybe they should have partnered and kept their products on Steam rather than trying to compete against Gabe. Lord knows I haven't played a PC game from EA since they took all their products off Steam.

Re:Don't go it alone... (2)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037793)

Valve could buy EA and just put them all back, along with all the Origin users and games.

Re:Don't go it alone... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038339)

but why would they? Origin users are most probably "worthless" as in, they probably already got a steam account as well. and spending 20$ per share only to be able to offer a couple of old games on steam.. not worth it.

Ding dong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037723)

The wicked witch is dEAd!!

Re:Ding dong! (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038013)

Yeah, no, they'll just end up being acquired by Zynga, and releasing something abominable, like SimFarmMaddenVille.

Re:Ding dong! (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038179)

I'd buy two just to burn them in a public execution.

Re:Ding dong! (3, Informative)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038233)

Zynga isn't doing so well lately, either.

Re:Ding dong! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038443)

It's like two Christmases in August. The only thing that could make this better is Activision's overnight implosion.

Re:Ding dong! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038699)

They'll feel a need for speed with their stock price falling.

Reasons for trouble (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037727)

I would like to imagine that any financial problems EA is seeing are also a result of their shockingly poor handling of developers, unethical treatment of customers, misguided use of DRM, and famously incompetent management.

Re:Reasons for trouble (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037879)

I would like to imagine that any financial problems EA is seeing are also a result of their shockingly poor handling of developers, unethical treatment of customers, misguided use of DRM, and famously incompetent management.

Famously incompetent you say? We should probably award them a lucrative retention bonus immediately, lest they abandon ship to mismanage somebody else.

Possible buyers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037765)

It's got to be someone with the same sets of goals, primarily being evil. There are only a few companies I can think of that are evil enough to possibly buy EA.

First off, in the games arena, there's already Zynga. A ZyngEA merger would create the ultimate evil games company.

Next up, in media, would probably be ComcastNBCUniversal. They've got wide coverage in the world of entertainment, and would definitely have some evil synergy with EA. ComcastNBCUniversalEA would also provide 30 Rock with some new material.

Finally, if mobile is where they see themselves lacking, why not AT&T? They're regularly hated by their customers, yet manage to prevent most of them from leaving. EA could definitely benefit from this sort of customer lock-in. EAT&T could really screw with quite a few customers. Dropped calls could become a new game, for example.

Re:Possible buyers (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038165)

In the year of 2012, in order to combat the growing number of mergers resulting in astronomical losses to shareholders and terrible customer service, the US Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision declaring and breaking up Ma Bell. In a matter of weeks, the super-corporation had reconstituted itself, marking its enemies for death, and dealing ruthlessly with those who had imprisoned it.

The aftermath, of course, is that all telephone companies are now Bell, and service, which costs $20 / month, is now mandatory.

Re:Possible buyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038709)

EA has historically been associated with ABC/Disney/ESPN. They spawned CreativeWonders (kids games) with ABC/Disney back in the '90s. Later it seemed like they made sure that no other company got a full line of ESPN branded games by being tied to Disney.
So I think taht a merger with ABC/Disney would be the most evil, having been screwed hard by Disney while working at THREE different companies over 20 years. One time you can say, "Maybe I worked with an asshole, they can't all be like that there.", three different companies in two different fields you know it's a systemic corperate attitude. NEVER go in to businesss with Disney unless you can affors lots of lawyers. Back in the '90s we interviewed a bunch of animators looking to jump ship from Disney in Florida. The all called it Mouschwitz.

Re:Possible buyers (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038185)

I'm hoping that Valve might do it and maybe set the developers free from the evil reign of EA.

Re:Possible buyers (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038769)

Oracle comes to mind.

the revenge of DRM (5, Interesting)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037779)

anyone who plays games that use EA's "always connected" DRM are going to be screwed shortly.

Re:the revenge of DRM (3, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038083)

The state of computer games - inability to own and resell, the whole DRM diarrhea including "always connected" - is a shame, but clearly the customers are so addicted that even as they complain, they continue to fork over dump-truck loads of cash. There is *NO* incentive for game companies to behave any other way.

Re:the revenge of DRM (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038631)

They really dont, most of their audiences are children who dont give a shit and their customers are the parents who dont know anything else but to buy game X so their little shit quits screaming. That is the majority of game sales in a sentence.

Re:the revenge of DRM (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038183)

"And we told them it was a license good for their lifetime! Lol!"

PLEASE someone with common sense buy them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037795)

They have great titles, but are run by a bunch of morons who don't release anything new without dragging it through the mud (DRM, etc).

Meanwhile at Valve theyre porting games to linux (1)

detain (687995) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037799)

wonder which company /. will more readily get behind.

Re:Meanwhile at Valve theyre porting games to linu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038569)

If you believe the slashdot community is even remotely relevant to the future of the gaming industry, think again.

Dear Gaben (5, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037803)

Dear Gaben, please use some of that money you keep in your money pool to buy EA, and then make it awesome.

Re:Dear Gaben (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038193)

I...I think I second this.

Re:Dear Gaben (0, Flamebait)

jmerlin (1010641) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038533)

CS: GO, utter shit (even worse than CS:S, if that's even possible). HL3: myth. DOTA? Shit. Steam? Complete forfeit of all consumer rights to "buy" games. I don't think GabeN is the messiah you believe he is.

Re:Dear Gaben (3, Insightful)

Pubstar (2525396) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038591)

I think that CS:GO actually plays closer to 1.6 than CSS, which is refreshing. Only thing is the tasers and decoy grenades are stupid as hell... and if you've been paying attention, there is a new engine coming out for HL3 (or atleast that is what's assumed).

And I think I can live in a world where I don't technically own a game when I paid $20 for all GTA games (1-4, San Andres, Vice City, and Episodes from Liberty City), or pay 75% off on some AAA title a month or two after it comes out in a steam sale.

Dear jmerlin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038711)

You seem to be in a bad mood. All. The. Time.

I'll just leave this here for you.

Facts and Opinions [pbskids.org]

Re:Dear Gaben (2)

agrif (960591) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038645)

Dear Gaben, please use some of that money you keep in your money pool to buy EA, and then make it awesome.

I thought this too, for about a second. There's a lot of good IP that EA holds that could do with a very long and loving Valve-style update. But this would be a very dangerous move to make.

Valve is flat. Everybody decides for themselves what to work on. This is a hard environment to maintain, and so their hiring process is extremely important. It would be almost impossible to work in former EA employees without causing a major upset in Valve's company culture. The other option would be buying them but running them as a separate studio, which might work, but I would still fear culture leak.

how does this work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037837)

How does any entity sell all of something at a higher unit price than to buy one of something? How does that represent a reasonable deal? I'm really wondering.

Re:how does this work (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037933)

You can't just buy 50.000001% of the common stock on the open market. Most funds won't sell to you because of their rules and buying that much stock will drive the price up.

So you find a buyer who will pay a premium as long as all the stock holders agree.

Even back in the 1980's and hostile takeovers you had to buy only 10% of the stock and get other stock holders to agree with your plan. Kind of like European parliaments and their dozens of parties.

Maybe it's because they keep ruining their... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037851)

franchises?

Nevermind all the screwing their customers stuff, I used to play/buy ever NFS game from Underground to Undercover, Although honestly car-wise they peaked at NFS:U2 (Which while being an 'arcadey' style game, actually had better tuning options than anything, except Gran Turismo and a few hardcore sims, and could actually be considered better than many other games since it allowed both engine and turbocharger tuning characteristics, in addition to the usual suspension and aerodynamic options). Between paying for extra cars, the loss of piecemeal bodywork tuning in Most wanted and above, the ever shoddier arcadey physics models (NFS:U still has relatively nice physics 9 years later. U2 was okay, MW,Carbon,Prostreet,Undercover all sucked, Shift seemed like an improvement but between the lack of bodykits and the unbalanced cars it wasn't worth more than an hour or two played at a friend's house. Combined with the latest NFS offerings being made into arcadey action-adventures that don't translate well to steering wheels I fail to see how the ever inflating budget for the games is justified. Test Drive Unlimited 2 from Atari suffered from the same sort of Arcadism, although as a larger and truly open world driving experience it at least has more playability.

Given that the Modern Warfare games seem to be following the same trend, and honestly not much has changed in Madden in what, a decade? I'm more surprised that EA is only running into trouble now from a production point of view. And combined with the brain drain from their abusive employment policies I'm surprised it took them this long to come to that conclusion.

While I imagine this is just going to lead to an every decreasing number of ever-more-fascist 'Big Name' publishers, perhaps this is a real opportunity for a surge in smaller studios displacing the large corporations, and perhaps reducing the drm to measures more palatable to my continued gaming interests (having not bought a new game in 2+ years, the last being X3:TC, which has barely been played.)

What would you be buying? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037867)

EA certainly has a lousy reputation; but it strikes me that video game publishers in general would be a very odd thing to purchase whole if they are selling because of hard times...

Presumably there is the back catalog; but most games don't hold their value that well over time(not necessarily a serious issue if the game still runs on current versions of Windows and you can just shove it out as a download at impulse-purchase prices; but if the game is bitrotten or encumbered in some contractual issue, you probably aren't going to be able to charge enough to make it worth fixing...).

There are also likely some developers/artists/etc. but the demographics of game industry workers seem to skew toward young and mobile. Especially if the ship is sinking you can probably hire them piecemeal, and you can't necessarily retain them if you buy the whole thing.

Would you be paying for the various franchises? How much is it worth to legally sell "Command and Conquer: Kane Cashes It In" vs. selling an otherwise equivalent grim-near-future-warfare-and-alien-minerals RTS?

Surely "Origin" can't be worth much more than the precious metals in the servers it runs on, minus the cost of extracting them.

Again, EA seems like a particularly unpalatable purchase; but I'm a bit confused about the idea of buying any down-at-heel publisher. It seems like being down-at-heel suggests that the whole is not greater than the sum of the parts, and that most of the parts are either optional, not very valuable, or available for purchase either by offering them a bigger paycheck, or by bidding on a chunk of the publisher's corpse...

Re:What would you be buying? (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037893)

Presumably you'd be buying all the IPs that EA owns, EA after all for the longest time has been buying developers and consuming their IPs.

Re:What would you be buying? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038117)

Consuming is 100% the proper verb; after all, what comes out of that process is complete and utter shit.

Re:What would you be buying? (2)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037989)

They have lots of awesome IP, just idiot management who seems unable to execute.

There are hundreds of millions of mobile devices out there and mobile gamers don't seem to care about ultra realistic graphics and seeing every drop of blood. Mobile gaming is all about gameplay.

A good buyer will make a killing selling the old games for $10 or less

Re:What would you be buying? (1)

Grieviant (1598761) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038571)

There are hundreds of millions of mobile devices out there and mobile gamers don't seem to care about ultra realistic graphics and seeing every drop of blood. Mobile gaming is all about gameplay.

False dichotomy. Just because you're playing a game on a device that's incapable of decent video resolution and frame rate doesn't imply that "it's all about gameplay". Far from it, actually, since any notion of good gameplay on mobile devices is hamstrung by horrid touch screen interfaces and an expected price of $1.

Let's try your analogy on food: "There are millions of consumers of fast food and they don't seem to care about the frills and atmosphere offered by real restaurants. Dining at McDonalds is all about nutrition."

Re:What would you be buying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038051)

"otherwise equivalent grim-near-future-warfare-and-alien-minerals RTS"

Except with the latest Command and Conquer, they decided to do away with the minerals and RTS part. And it wasn't the future that was grim.

Re:What would you be buying? (4, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038077)

> Presumably there is the back catalog; but most games don't hold their value that well over time

Uh, do you know about an effect called "the Long Tail" ?

Did you also miss all the sales Valve has on Steam or GOG has?? While old games (5+ years) may only sell for $2.99 - $9.99, there are getting to be a lot of older games that don't mind spending $4.99 to buy a legal copy of that "oldie" -- I know I certainly do as many of my steam friends. A $2.99 or $4.99 to own a classic Bullfrog game (Populous, Magic Carpet, etc.) is well worth it. Hell, sell *all* the original Ultima series.

Don't understand estimate the worth of nostalgia ... IF old games are cheap enough there will be a long trickle of "loose change" for us old geezers.

Re:What would you be buying? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038155)

EA still has some good development studios; they're not a pure publisher. For example, EA Tiburon develops the quite profitable Madden series. Maxis also has some good talent, although EA's mismanagement means it has less good talent than it used to.

But probably the franchises are the biggest win, yeah. They have a lot of high-profile ones: Medal of Honor, Dragon Age, The Sims, Dead Space, and the whole EA Sports line.

Re:What would you be buying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038517)

Medal of Honor is now another 'me-too' CoD game (at least in the eyes of the public), and DA2 effectively killed DA's appeal. The Sims would more than make up for those, though.

Re:What would you be buying? (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038577)

I disagree. ea has great IP, but they are so hostile to their Customers they chase away business. If someone that loves gaming bought them and fired all the upper management, put them on the path to mend fences with their Customers their profitability would return. Unfortunately, those who have the cash to buy ea would more than likely be more of the 14 year old MBA crowd that has run ea into he ground.

Poppit was the beginning of the end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037905)

I knew when I saw Poppit that they had to be going down the tubes in a big hurry.

Nobody I know actually likes EA. They lie incessantly-- not a single piece of the Spore hype was true.

It's a pity that so many great franchises will go down the tubes with them, but those have mostly been sucked dry by now anyway.

Here's hoping Zynga buys them... (1)

Havenwar (867124) | more than 2 years ago | (#41037909)

I mean, they probably don't have enough cash, but if they do I'd be quite happy with that outcome. The more 'bad' companies that consolidate under one name, the better. Make it easier to know when to drop a title and run.

Besides, I'd just love to see what Zynga could do with SWTOR. Integrate with your facebook friends? Add 67 more friends to be able to buy a light sabre from the store, OR buy credits directly from Zynga. Just about $900 a month or a few thousand friends should make sure you have a pleasant gaming experience. Hey what are you complaining about, it's FREE TO PLAY! Not their fault if you don't have enough friends, or money, to play their free games.

Re:Here's hoping Zynga buys them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038069)

That's always been the most ridiculous concept...friends = currency. There's only one reason it creates value is that it sets up a broadcast network so they can target advertising. Eventually it stops scaling when everyone knows everyone else.

The closest physical analog would be...what? Talk to X random people? Copy your housekey for X random people? I don't get it.

Re:Here's hoping Zynga buys them... (1)

Havenwar (867124) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038139)

Well I don't see why you'd expect it to make sense from a consumer point of view. I mean, I've never met anyone who haven't seen straight through it - it's a way to push people into spreading the game to others, making more people play, getting more people addicted to clicking, to spending on micropayments, et.c.

So it doesn't seem like such a ridiculous concept from their point of view. And really if you want game concepts to make sense I'm still waiting for the day when I can drink some red goo out of a bottle and regain my health after having been stabbed nearly to death in a swordfight. I mean there might be some things that make sense in gaming, but there are plenty of things that are just nonsensical that we still never question. Respawing? Conveniently placed stores in the middle of the wilderness to sell off your items and stock up on health potions before the next boss? Anti-gravity-boobs?

The real threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037959)

I almost never bother posting here but now I am simply compelled. The real reason why EA is for sale isn't social gaming or anything like that. The real reason is that they haven't made really good games, they know it, the company is slowly sinking, and they know that as well.

EA's strategy for the last 5-10 years has been to buy out smaller successful gaming companies, turning their games into indeterminate mash guided by the lowest common denomitator shared by the widest possible target audience they could think of. You don't make great games by that. You make only average games after you try to please the average player.

That's how they ruined completely for instance BattleField and Mass Effect. Rest in peace.

The new platforms have opened the door for new kind of more segmented and more fun gaming. EA knows this also, and they are scared shitless. It's better for the present owners to cash in what they can and run.

Microsoft? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037963)

If Microsoft could purchase EA and get exclusive Madden and Fifa, that could be a big swing.

GabeN, now's your chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41037979)

Almighty GabeN,

We pray to thee, save this company from its cruel masters by consuming it. There must be a way.

They are but the first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038027)

I believe we're going to see a lot of the big studios fall on hard times over the next few years, and it'll be a few more after that before things recover again. In many ways, we can look to the movie industry as the harbinger of things to come in the games industry precisely because both industries got to be where they are thanks to rising technology that grew in step with public tastes. What's interesting is that since about 1980 we've seen in thirty or so years what took sixty years to accomplish in cinema.

At first, it was just people stretching technology as far as they could. "I can, so I will." became "I must so I can compete." Graphics, voice acting, music grew more and more ambitious, more and more expensive. From games for the SNES that could be produced for less than half a million (well, ~$775,000, adjusted for inflation) to something like Mass Effect 3, whose budget is 25 million for development and several times that for marketing. What we're seeing right now is the approaching impossibility of further inflation in budgets. Games like Star Wars: The Old Republic cost somewhere north of $200 million to produce (For reference, the inflated production cost for 'The Ten Commandments' if produced today would be $105,338,597). The stakes are so high that If the game isn't a hit from release day onwards, it has the potential to wreck not just the studio, but the publisher.

Simultaneously, you can watch as maturing tools lower the costs of the actual coding to the point that a person in his or her home with a good idea, determination and a hobbyist's budget can make a game that's good enough to sell a couple hundred thousand copies. These two worlds exist side-by-side for the moment, but they won't continue to do so forever. EA has made its money betting big – big stars and big budgets and epic marketing stunts – but investors are beginning to shy away from the risks they take and the damage a poorly-handled execution can damage both the IP (long term) and the company's share value (short term).

If they have any sense, they'll break the big megastudios apart (not necessarily from a business point of view, but in terms of internal organization) and refocus on many smaller, more profitable, less risky projects. Of course, that ain't gonna happen, but it's what should.

It's not social and mobile gaming... (5, Insightful)

sr8outtalotech (1167835) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038099)

This part made me laugh, "EA has been struggling against growing trend of social and mobile gaming." You can only exploit a hit game for a few iterations before you have to get off your ass and come up with something new. But, it's hard to come up with something good when the talented developers get wise to your project [mis]management and either leave or won't work for you. http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html [livejournal.com]

I think they have three choices (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038105)

[Blue] Control. You get $14 dollars a share and YOU WILL LIKE IT!
[Red] Destruction. Go bankrupt.
[Green] Anti-synthesis. Split apart, releasing all the developers you gobbled up back to their formerly creative ways.

Re:I think they have three choices (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038415)

[Shoot the boy] Nothing happens; EA may or may not be bought out in the next cycle.

"Social/Mobile Gaming" Not to Blame (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038149)

Social and Mobile gaming appeals to a very small overlap of EA's traditional core audience: invested gamers. Moreover, EA has its own mobile gaming arm.

EA is tanking because it has tried to cover ALL the bases (Xbox, Playstation, PC/Mac, iPhone, Android, Kindle, Facebook...) and has thus lost the ability to accurately and reliably cater to a single audience. EA has become so big that, like an octopus that has too many arms, can't manage to feed itself.

If they want to survive and be genuinely profitable, they need to Ma' Bell it up, divide their separate divisions up into actual self-sufficient companies and see who sinks and who swims. Focus on your audience, not the entirety of the Earth's population.

Re:"Social/Mobile Gaming" Not to Blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038271)

Octopus are perfectly capable of feeding themselves, otherwise they would go extinct.

Re:"Social/Mobile Gaming" Not to Blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038389)

Octopus are perfectly capable of feeding themselves, otherwise they would go extinct.

And they are very intelligent animals. Some would say they're more intelligent than some of those executives occupying space at EA various studios. Hey dump those assholes and replace them with octopuses. Maybe something good will come out.

Re:"Social/Mobile Gaming" Not to Blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038493)

The trouble is, you'll end up with games requiring 8 hands to play.

Re:"Social/Mobile Gaming" Not to Blame (2)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038611)

ea is tanking because they are treating their Customers badly. You only get a short term boost in profits the way ea is running their business and after you damage your brand as badly as ea it is more or less ruined. I see ea on game and just skip it without learning anything more about it.

I think southpark already covered EA (1)

GeXX (449863) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038161)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3PGbF87hNw

They nailed this one.

WRONG (4, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038191)

"EA has been struggling against growing trend of social and mobile gaming."

wrong, they have been struggling with overpriced shitware

Competition from (unprofitable) social gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038213)

Zynga, etc, have SO successfully taken market share by, for example posting a $700M loss over the past twelve months.

What next, a car company that gives away crappy cars taking market share from Toyota, Honda, etc?

I wish they were bought out by a group of (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038227)

investors led by Lord British. That would learn them for messing up Origin Systems.

Re:I wish they were bought out by a group of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038791)

Regardless of who buys EA, they really should sell the Ultima IP back to Lord British.

Great news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038239)

Only thing left now is for Activision to quitly buy EA and Hello Monopoly!

EA has been struggling with crappy games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038287)

Their sports franchises are successful, but, because of the shit they have pulled in the past, I have sworn to never install another EA game on my computer, and with what they are doing with consoles, I'm at the very least hesitant to play EA games there as well.

Crap DRM-encumbered game maker loses says? (1)

lpq (583377) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038471)

You mean people find it easier to use other games than their crap DRM-laden game stuff like MASS Effect III which I've yet to get to run on my machine -- and am have been unable to contact their customer support because my email (ea@) is now "illegal" to contact "ea" with? (Still has my MEII and Dragon-AGE player records under that login, but now it's an illegal login for customer support.

Complete and utter Aholes. Hope they get 20c/$.

Total BS (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038473)

They aren't sinking because of social/mobile gaming, companies like Valve are currently flourishing. They're sinking because EA has become a bad company run by bad people, that puts out a lot of bad games. It's become way too big for itself, and now it's time for this hideous abomination to be put down. GTFO rEApers!

If a company was smart, they would... (1)

Pubstar (2525396) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038543)

...Buy EA, and make System Shock 3. Then roll in the money. Hell, I'm sure plenty would even kill for a SS2 HD remake. I just keep reading that the series is in limbo because EA technically owns the trademark rights to the System Shock name.

Well this could suck (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038587)

If either Microsoft or Apple buys it i am going to cry.

Annual Report says it all (3, Insightful)

perlith (1133671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038651)

EA has a rich 30 year history behind it. In the past 5-10 years, more power has been put into the consumers hands and has negatively affected their revenues. This is a general trend for the entertainment industry, where a movie/game/etc. can be killed within a day or two of being released. Not defending EA here, instead I'm saying they haven't responded well to this change in the industry.

Annual report is an interesting read:
1) High costs
- $4.1B revenue, $76M profit. Marketing was 21% of net revenue, General/Administrative was 9%, R&D was 29%. When the cost to sell the product exceeds the cost to develop it, there's a major problem.
- There's also a "cost or revenue" which ate into another 39% of the revenue. Other than third-party royalties which can't be avoided, this item looks really suspicious to eat up that big of a chunk.

2) Digital and mobile
- The report admits the current models of AAA console games needs to shift. The risk+cost is too high. Digital and mobile games at a lower overall cost and via direct sales to consumers works better. The acquisition of PopCap will hopefully gain them a strong brand to start in the mobile space. The Sims will continue to dominate the social space.
- I personally think Origin has a chance with PC gamers. However, it has started out really really poorly. You don't take a AAA title and throw a half-baked Beta digital distribution platform against it. For console games, I think digital distribution COULD work if done right. I'm not confident in EA's management to pull it off though given how poorly Origin started out on PC.

3) Work with your Customer
- Of all the things the annual report is missing ... focus on the customer. I see absolutely nothing listed for how they plan to incorporate their customers into their business model. You can't go into the digital or mobile space and expect to succeed without this incorporated into your strategy. Steam, Facebook and Apple all have gotten a LOT of things right in this regard, like them or hate them, they've gotten it right.
- EA needs to work with their customers, not against them. Do not pull another Command and Conquer 4 and introduce radical change in gameplay to completely destroy one of the best and longest running game series. Do not announce / force a specific release date for a game ahead of time if it needs more polish ala Mass Effect 3.
- Do not focus so much on the short-term, you are destroying your brand equity longer-term by doing so. The tinfoil hat part of me suggests the Extended Cut for Mass Effect 3 was planned all along, but would have taken too long to release ... after the end of EAs fiscal year (March 31st). This would have resulted in a huge loss for the year rather than a small profit.

A private purchase may return EA to profitability. It needs some significant changes and this may be the ticket to do so. Really feel sorry for the employees of the company ... they were already putting up with 60-100 hour work weeks ... this will just make things a lot worse. Probably better than the company folding, but not by much.

Hey, you'll never know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038703)

Lots and lots of game companies focused on Windows.

Had they targeted Linux, Android would be a nobrainer and Apple would be an option, being *BSD-like and all (though I really don't know iOS).

But, hey, they can go for the 1% Windows Phone already "achieved". Oh, sorry, I think it's about 1.5%...

Hahaha, losers...

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