A conference call about the buy-out is kicking off in just minutes. I'll be liveblogging it here on the jump. Stay tuned.OK, it's now underway.
EA says they've had their eye on these companies for a number of years and that the two companies will help fill a void in EA's RPG, action and adventure games. They also will get to dip their toe into the MMO world.
Now the deal specifics:
They are paying $US 860 million in consideration, as we reported earlier, and they expect the deal to close by early 2008.
EA expects to break even on the deal by 2009 and start raking it in by 2010.
John Riccitiello's on the line now. He says he has a "residual interest" in Elevation Partners but that the decision to go ahead with the purchase was confirmed by an independent team.
Frank Gibeau, president of the games label, said EA expects games to be created in "10 plus" franchises as well as the MMO that BioWare's Austin office is working on.
Of the ten plus franchises there are many titles that have not yet been announced but will be in the near future. They do include Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Mercenaries, Saboteur, Neverwinter Knights and several others.
EA said BioWare and Pandemic have several titles that have been targeted for the DS and the Wii.
The dialogue engine in Mass Effect which could be used for other games in the future.
EA brings a lot to the table in the deal, Riccitiello says. They can "offer them the leverage of the world's best publisher", much more in the way of online and much more in the way of mobile.
"We are not in the open world action adventure business, these guys are leaders. Strong intellectual properties and talent."
Of the ten titles that the EA folks referenced earlier, the games are expected to be spread out from now to 2011.
EA is already publishing a bulk of BioWare and Pandemic titles, so the effect of the titles hitting this holiday probably won't be that pronounced.
Riccitiello compares today's news with EA's aquisition of Maxis or Westwood, though he points out both were smaller developers than BioWare or Pandemic.
Maxis has since become a much bigger, bigger business. In the case of Westwood, EA was less successful there but they were able to take the C&C franchise and build it significantly.
And that's it. I'll be posting the full transcript of this call down here once it hits the EA webpage. I'd expect it to be within the next hour.