EA’s impending takeover of Formula 1 game developer Codemasters has got significantly closer after Codemasters’ shareholders voted in favour of the buyout on Wednesday.
Ever since EA’s $1.2billion bid was first announced it has caused a stir among fans of Codemasters’ racing games, who wondered what this could mean for the studio’s future releases.
While it’s unlikely that there will be much difference in the near future, with EA’s takeover still pending a court hearing on February 16, EA has recently given an insight into what it hopes it can do once it’s acquired the British studio.
A recent EA earnings call has made it clear that the opportunity presented by the F1 video game license is a primary focus for EA, and that the publisher believes it has the resources to be able to improve upon Codemasters’ previous games.
“We’re also incredibly excited to build a racing powerhouse with our proposed acquisition of Codemasters,” said Andrew Wilson, Electronic Arts’ CEO and Director.
“These are amazing teams that we know very well, and we are adding significantly to our racing portfolio to drive growth.
“Formula 1 is one of the few truly global sports and is already seeing unprecedented growth in worldwide fandom, including in North America and Asia.
“We believe the combination of EA Sports and Codemasters can take the game franchise to an even greater level.”
What’s interesting is that Wilson goes on to mention “live services” as something “we don’t yet see” in Codemasters’ existing games. The ‘live service’ video game model relies on continual updates and new content added to a game well after its initial release that are usually aimed at driving a continuous stream of revenue.
This fuels the idea that a micro-transaction heavy mode such as Ultimate Team could be added, especially since it’s present in EA’s FIFA, Madden and NHL titles.
“As I think about this as an opportunity, I start with the fact that we will be able to bring together all of the greatest racing talent in our industry or most of the great racing talent in our industry,” Wilson said.
“When I think about taking that collection of talent and pointing them at [existing EA franchise] Need for Speed, pointing them at Formula 1, pointing them at GRID, pointing them at DiRT and thinking about how all of that might happen with regular launches of those titles with really strong live services wrapped around them, which we don’t yet see in the Codemasters games.
“All powered by the leverage of the marketing organization that we have behind us, I think the opportunity is really, really strong.
“And so you should imagine that as we think about this, Need for Speed, which is already one of the leading racing franchises that we launch every other year, we think there might be opportunities around growth of releases and certainly growth of that title.
“We think that F1 plus live service plus our marketing muscle is a profound opportunity. And we think that GRID and DiRT also represent great new additions to our portfolio.
“But the big win here is bringing together what we believe is going to be the greatest collection of racing talent in the industry.”
It’s clear though that EA believes there is huge potential for growth in the popularity of F1 games in particular.
“The F1 franchise is so nascent. It’s a new franchise for them,” said Blake Jorgensen, Electronic Arts’ COO & CFO.
“We know if you’re based in the US, there’s very little F1 racing going on in the US. And yet we know that the owners of F1 [Liberty Media] would like to build an F1 business in the US.
“We know that there’s still expansion around the globe, it is probably one of the best growth opportunities there is and the reason that we’re willing to pay what we were willing to pay for it.
“Not to mention the talent that’s in that organisation that could continue to help our Need for Speed business or our Real Racing [mobile racing game franchise] business, it could be very powerful.
“We know it’s not going to be the size of FIFA, but we believe that there is a huge potential, particularly as you think about the growth of the underlying franchises that we might be able to help drive. And that’s why we’re so excited about it.”