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Report: Disney execs keen to acquire a publisher like EA

NBCUniversal and Amazon have reportedly wanted to buy EA in the past, and now Disney executives are allegedly wanting to add the publisher to its portfolio.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

October 10, 2023

2 Min Read
Logo for game publisher Electronic Arts.

A new Bloomberg report reveals Disney executives are looking to get further into games. Their solution? Acquire Electronic Arts. 

Sources speaking to the outlet say executives under current CEO Bob Iger want him to perform a "bolder transformation" of Disney's video game division. Rather than license out properties like Marvel and Star Wars, it should buy up a publisher with extensive game experience, and EA specifically was mentioned. 

Iger is said to be "noncommittal" about the matter, but the two companies have had a somewhat stable relationship over the last eight years. In 2013, EA secured exclusive rights to make "core" Star Wars games, resulting in a reboot of the Star Wars Battlefront series from DICE and eventually Respawn Entertainment's Star Wars Jedi series.

Despite the controversial reception of Star Wars Battlefront II (2017)the success of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order led to EA making more games games with the license (like 2020's Star Wars: Squadrons), while letting other developers such as Ubisoft also do projects for the series. 

At the same time, a handful of Star Wars games under EA were canceled, such as one from EA Vancouver—known as Project Orca and originally from Visceral Games—and a Battlefront spinoff.

Currently, EA's licensing relationship with Disney also extends to Marvel. Its subsidiaries Motive Studio and Cliffhanger Games are presently developing single-player projects for a number of Marvel characters.

Whether or not EA does end up a Disney subsidiary, this isn't the first time the publisher has been marked as an acquisition target. Last year, NBCUniversal was reportedly looking at buying the company, but those plans fell apart. A similar rumor concerned the developer being acquired by Amazon.

In response to NBCUniversal's specific acquisition, EA CEO Andrew Wilson refuted those claims, saying the company was in an "incredible position." He even bragged that the company was on track to be "the largest stand-alone independent developer and publisher of interactive entertainment in the world."

At the time, his statements were before EA canceled a pair of mobile games, killed a single-player spinoff for Apex Legends, and laid off hundreds of staff after "strong" profits. Currently, the publisher is being sued for allegedly shortchanging the severance of recently laid off BioWare employees

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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