Alloy Digital has completed the acquisition of the popular gaming website, The Escapist from Themis Media. Themis Media was advised on the sale by Redwood Capital and A. Buchholtz & Company, LLC. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Alloy Digital has completed the acquisition of the popular gaming website, The Escapist from Themis Media. Themis Media was advised on the sale by Redwood Capital and A. Buchholtz & Company, LLC. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The former head of Square has some harsh words for Square Enix after the company posted a quarter of losses, saying publicly that the company seemed to have "no vision for the future." Square Enix recently posted losses of nearly 5.5 billion yen, which in turn sent its stock in a downward dive, making its market cap worth around 124 billion yen.
Suzuki pointed out on Twitter that when Square merged with Enix in 2003, the market cap was 150 billion yen.
Nexon Co., Ltd. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all outstanding common shares of gloops, Inc., a mobile games developer that made its name by developing for DeNA’s Mobage platform in Japan. Nexon will pay 36.5 billion yen in cash.
Epic Games bought a majority stake in Bulletstorm and Painkiller developer People Can Fly in 2007, and as of today they own the company outright. Epic Games announced that it has purchased the Warsaw, Poland-based developer who is currently working on Gears of War Judgment, though for how much they did not disclose. Epic made the decision to buy the company last week.
On a related note, Adrian Chmielarz, Andrzej Poznanski and Michal Kosieradzki have left the company. Epic's Mark Rein says that these departures will not affect the studio's ongoing projects in any way.
The CEO of middleware company BigWorld has resigned from the company. Earlier in the week it was announced that World of Tanks developer Wargaming had bought the middleware provider for $45 million. CEO John De Margheriti, who was one of the founders of the company, will step down at the end of this week. He will be replaced by co-founder Steve Wang, who will report directly to executives at Wargaming. Despite the departure, De Margheriti's statement seems to indicate an amicable exit from BigWorld.
In a shocking turn of events, Wargaming has purchased video game middleware company BigWorld for $45 Million, according to a GamesBeat report. Wargaming is best known for its wildly popular online game World of Tanks. That game has more than 35 million registered users who can play for free or buy virtual goods to enhance their game experience if they so choose.
In a deal financed by Arkenstone Investment, APB Reloaded creator Reloaded Games has merged with its parent company, K2 Network. The new company will operate under the Reloaded Games name.
"This merger represents the beginning of a new era for the company, as we evolve our two core businesses," said Reloaded Games CEO Bjorn Book-Larsson. "We have already signed contracts with independent developers to use our platform and portal for their free-to-play game distribution. We will announce those agreements in the next couple of weeks."
Zynga probably isn't all that embarrassed that OMGPOP's Draw Something beat their top game on Facebook this week - because they have bought OMGPOP. If you can't beat them, I guess you simply buy them out. The godfather of social gaming has made the company an offer it couldn't refuse, with some publications putting the deal in the $200 million ballpark. This deal is not all that surprising given the number of rumors circulating that Zynga executives were out to buy the company and take advantage of the Draw Something success.
AT&T has officially announced that its merger plan with T-Mobile is pushing up daises, but it also takes a few shots at the government for running interference to kill the deal. The $39 billion deal with T-Mobile parent company - Germany-based Deutsche Telekom - fell apart after government regulators from the FCC and the Justice Department took AT&T to task over what the company claimed the deal would accomplish. The Justice Department sued to block the deal in late August, calling it anti-competitive and warning that it could raise consumer prices.
It's a time-out for everyone when it comes to the drama over the AT&T and T-Mobile merger, as AT&T and the Justice Department have agreed that they will delay indefinitely the antitrust trial over the company’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA while the wireless carriers involved determine if it will ever even happen.
AT&T is finding that making the $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA a reality will be an uphill battle. The mobile broadband operator expected the FCC and other U.S. government agencies to green light the merger, but this week FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asked commissioners to send the proposal to a judge for a hearing and further scrutiny. FCC staff came to the conclusion that the proposed merger would "significantly diminish competition" and lead to job losses.
Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to block AT&T Inc.’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of rival T-Mobile USA Inc. In its filing today in Federal Court the government said that the deal would "substantially lessen competition" in the wireless market. The government is seeking a declaration that AT&T’s takeover of T-Mobile (owned by Deutsche Telekom AG, or DTE), would violate U.S. antitrust law.
New York-based law firm Bursor & Fisher, P.A., has launched "Fight The Merger," an initiative to stop the proposed $39 billion merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. The firm, which has in the past sued both AT&T and T-Mobile separately on behalf of their customers, has signed up a few dozen AT&T customers to oppose the unpopular merger.
The web site for the initiative claims that a successful takeover would mean that AT&T and Verizon controlling around 80 percent of the market in the U.S. It further argues that the deal would hinder innovation and limit consumer protection from high prices. Sprint would be the only nationwide competition to AT&T and Verizon, and it has vocally opposed the merger as well.
How do you give money to politicians without actually giving them a big fat check directly? Write a check to a charity they are closely associated with. That is just what AT&T has been doing, and it is getting the attention of the public and media outlets.
AT&T has given a substantial amount of money to charities connected to several lawmakers including Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), who just happens to be the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has direct jurisdiction over the Federal Communications Commission. A charity associated with Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), who just happens to be on the Senate Appropriations Committee. AT&T also gave a generous contribution to a charity associated with Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina), the No. 3 House Democrat. His daughter, Mignon Clyburn also happens to be a member of the Federal Communications Commission.
China-based MMO giant Perfect World has entered into an agreement with Atari S.A. to acquire a hundred percent equity interest in Cryptic Studios, the developers of Champions Online, Star Trek Online, and City of Heroes. The California-based online game developer will cost Perfect World approximately EUR 35.0 million in cash, or $49.8 million. The deal is subject to working capital, adjustments as provided in the agreement, and other customary closing conditions. It is assumed that Perfect World does not gain control of the MMO's that Cryptic currently facilitates such as Champions Online or Star Trek Online.
Conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation has issued a report urging congress to review what it calls 20 "unnecessary and harmful regulations" - three of which have to do with the FCC.
"This regulatory tide must be reversed," Heritage's Dianne Katz said. "Policymakers should not just prevent harmful new regulations, but must repeal costly and unnecessary rules already on the books."
Ars Technica details the three items that Heritage Foundation is putting a bull’s-eye on: net neutrality regulations, media ownership rules, and the FCC's merger review authority.
paidContent is reporting that Yahoo may soon sell off its Yahoo Games unit in an effort to cut costs. HotJobs, Yahoo Small Business and Yahoo Personals are already on the sell list.
Yahoo Games averages 19.2 million unique visits per month and partnerships with PopCap, Gogii Games and Big Fish have helped to create a portfolio of hundreds of games. Yahoo’s fantasy sports business would not be included in the fire sale as it is part of Yahoo Sports.
While Yahoo doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation, paidContent’s sources say two potential buyers have already come calling. Who might be interested in acquiring Yahoo Games? Speculation runs from IGN Entertainment to Best Buy and GameStop but MSN Games and AOL are seen as the best candidates.
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen...
The annual report of game publishing giant Electronic Arts landed in GP's inbox this morning. Typically, reading through these things is a surefire remedy for insomnia, but EA's contains a few tidbits worth mentioning.
1.) EA's failed bid to gobble up Take-Two cost the company $21 million:
As a result of the terminated discussions [with T2], we recognized $21 million in related costs consisting of legal, banking and other consulting fees...
2.) EA uses DRM (you knew that) and is watching for piracy online:
We typically distribute our PC products using copy protection technology, digital rights management technology or other technological protection measures to prevent piracy... We are actively engaged in enforcement and other activities to protect against unauthorized copying and piracy, including monitoring online channels for distribution of pirated copies, and participating in various industry-wide enforcement initiatives, education programs and legislative activity around the world.
3.) Only 3% of EA employees are unionized, and they all work for DICE:
As of March 31, 2009, we had approximately 9,100 regular, full-time employees, of whom over 5,100 were outside the United States... Approximately 3 percent of our employees, all of whom work for DICE, our Swedish development studio, are represented by a union, guild or other collective bargaining organization.
4.) GameStop and Wal-Mart are EA's biggest customers; each accounts for 14% of EA sales:
Worldwide, we had direct sales to two customers, GameStop Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which each represented approximately 14 percent of total net revenue for the fiscal year... the concentration of our sales in one, or a few, large customers could lead to a short-term disruption in our sales if one or more of these customers significantly reduced their purchases or ceased to carry our products...
5.) EA worries about game content legislation and its potential effect on sales:
Legislation is continually being introduced in the United States... for the establishment of government mandated rating requirements or restrictions on distribution of entertainment software based on content... Other countries have adopted or are considering laws regulating or mandating ratings requirements... Adoption of government ratings system or restrictions... could harm our business by limiting the products we are able to offer to our customers...
6.) EA worries about falling victim to a Hot Coffee incident but has taken steps to prevent it from happening:
If one or more of our titles were found to contain hidden, objectionable content, our business could suffer... Retailers have on occasion reacted to the discovery of such hidden content by removing these games from their shelves, refusing to sell them, and demanding that their publishers accept them as product returns.
We have implemented preventative measures designed to reduce the possibility of hidden, objectionable content from appearing in the video games we publish. Nonetheless, these preventative measures are subject to human error, circumvention, overriding, and reasonable resource constraints.
A brief item on TheStreet.com mentions that there are rumors afoot that Apple may be fueling a major move into gaming by attempting to acquire publishing giant Electronic Arts.
Commenting on the speculation, Edge Online notes that Apple has recently hired some execs with game biz background.
TechNewsWorld has more speculation on Apple's gaming ambitions.
UPDATE: VG247 reports that Wedbush-Morgan analyst Michael Pachter pulled no punches in his assessment of the Apple-EA rumor:
To say that it is idiotic would be an insult to all idiots.
Pachter was also blunt in comments to Gamasutra:
Sounds retarded to me.
Apple could buy Warner Music for around $3 billion, and control 20 percent of all recorded music. That makes more sense to their current business model than buying EA for more than twice that, doesn't it?
I don't want to start a rumor, but want to point out that Apple doesn't own any entertainment content, so I don't know why they would feel compelled to enter a new business unrelated to their current product slate.
Take-Two, which managed to avoid being assimilated by Electronic Arts in last year's long-running takeover saga, may be the target of a new buyout, according to Barron's.
The financial news service attributes a recent rise in the share price of TTWO to takeover rumors:
Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) shares are up sharply for the second straight session on a revival of rumors that the video game company might be a takeover target... Last Thursday, the stock was hopping on what TheFlyOnTheWall.com [subscription req.] described as “renewed takeover chatter.” That apparently continues today.
As I post this, TTWO is up to 9.45, even though Wall Street itself is down.
UPDATE: Reached for comment by GamePolitics, Wedbush-Morgan financial analyst Michael Pachter pooh-poohed T2 takeover rumors:
I don’t see anyone making a move, given that management rejected EA’s $26 offer [last year]. It’s hard to see how anyone would pay more in this market, and I don’t know that Take-Two management would entertain an offer lower than $26 given their rejection of EA’s offer.
As numerous sources are reporting, Hearst's UGO Entertainment has acquired 1UP from financially-troubled Ziff-Davis. Along with the 1UP sale, ZD is ceasing publication of Entertainment Gaming Monthly. Perhaps the best-known print publication for video game enthusiasts, EGM has been in operation since 1989.
Joystiq has a list of 1UP and EGM staffers who have lost their jobs. Among these are some well-known game journos, including James "Milkman" Mielke and Shane Bettenhausen.
Reactions have come swiftly and many are saddened by the layoffs:
-Kombo has a list of Twitter accounts wherein several former and current 1UP and EGM staffers are tweeting about the situation.
-Former Computer Gaming World (yet another defunct ZD mag) editor Jeff Green blogged:
A sad day for all the folks at 1up.com... my condolences go out to all those now looking for work. The list of people they decided to lay off is just crazy. Don't ask me to make any sense of it, because I don't see any.
R.I.P. 1up.com. They may keep your URL, there, but we all know better.
-God of War designer David Jaffe blogged as well:
My heart goes out to all those 1up and EGM folks who lost their jobs today. It's a real shame considering what an important part you guys/gals have played in the US gaming world all these years. Thanks for the many, many years of great, entertaining work.
-Valve Software tweeted a condolence:
Sorry to see things go down like that. Best of luck to the guys at EGM and GV
UPDATE: Jeff Green added a bit of a rant...
UPDATE 2: EA's Peter Moore weighs in:
I was saddened to see the announcement this afternoon that Electronic Gaming Monthly is closing its doors as part of the Hearst acquisition of the Ziff Davis Media gaming assets. EGM has been a print publication mainstay of our industry for two decades, and while the real-time nature of web sites has put long-lead magazines and print media in general across most genres under real pressure, it is a sad day when such an important icon in gaming has to say goodbye.
As GamePolitics readers know, Electronic Arts pursued the acquisition of Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive for the better part of 2008.
Timing, as they say, is everything.
The deal ultimately fell through when EA walked away from the table in mid-September. Since then the global economy has gone into the toilet and the supposedly recession-proof video game industry has shown that it really isn't.
But when EA made its offer to acquire T2 at $25.74 per share, the economy had not yet tanked. No one even dreamed of a Wall Street bailout, much less a potential bailout of the U.S. auto industry.
What if the deal had gone through, obligating EA to lay out huge piles of cash? Would it be like burning your savings on a new car and finding out the next day that your hours were being cut back at your job? Since the merger fell apart, EA has definitely hit a rough patch, laying off a thousand workers and shuttering some of its game development studios.
As for Take-Two, their stock will open south of $9 this morning. Since EA bailed on the merger, TTWO has plummeted, losing about 2/3 of its equity value in 90 days.
From here it seems like T2 would have been better off if the deal had gone through, but EA would have been in worse shape. But we're not experts, so we put the question to Wedbush-Morgan analyst Michael Pachter. Here's what Pachter told us:
[My answer is] totally speculative. Had EA completed the deal, the TTWO shareholders at the time would have benefited, but other than Oppenheimer (who has been listed as a large shareholder the entire time), it's hard to say that there are many of those other shareholders still around. I think that many of the shareholders who bought to take advantage of EA's offer were sellers when the offer was withdrawn, so only a small number of current shareholders, including Oppenheimer, were actually involved in the stock back then.
EA would be a mess had it completed the deal. In addition to its own restructuring (which is just getting underway), the company would have been faced with re-signing the Housers and with cutting significant costs out of Take-Two in order to fully achieve synergies from the deal.
I don't think a low cash balance [due to the T2 purchase] would be particularly relevant, since EA has a line of credit and is not burning significant cash, but it would have forced decisive action.
Notwithstanding, this is purely speculative. I think EA would be a stronger company if combined with Take-Two, as the latter company has several valuable franchises and a combination would have given EA a near monopoly in sports. Had they signed the Housers, EA would have been well-positioned to develop incremental new IP, and would have had one of the strongest franchises around in GTA.
But it didn't happen, and doesn't look like it will over the near term
According to the Dow-Jones Newswire, federal investigators charged four men with today insider stock trading. One of the transactions named in the indictments was EA's bid to acquire T2 earlier this year.
No one from either Take-Two Interactive or Electronic Arts has been charged and there is no indication that the publishers had any inkling of the illegal stock trades. If government regulators are correct, however, information leaks from the Brunswick Group, a P.R. firm working on behalf of Take-Two, contributed to the crime. From the Dow-Jones report:
Four people were charged criminally Thursday in an insider trading scheme involving information about mergers or stock buybacks obtained from a Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. broker's wife who worked at communications firm Brunswick Group LLC...
According to court documents, they were among a group of clients and friends tipped by Matthew C. Devlin, a Lehman Brothers broker, about 12 planned deals before their public announcements between 2005 and 2008...
Devlin allegedly obtained the information from his wife, who worked at communications firm Brunswick Group, according to court filings. The deals included... Electronic Arts Inc.'s (ERTS) hostile bid earlier this year for Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO)...
Devlin has been charged criminally and in the SEC case... [other defendants]... referred to Devlin or his wife as the "golden goose," according to court documents.
The Guardian reports that there is no suggestion that Devlin's wife, Nina, a partner at Brunswick, knew of her husband's alleged stock market manipulations.
Has the hunter become the hunted?
Electronic Arts, which pursued GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive for much of 2008, may now be an acquisition target of Disney.
According to financial website The Motley Fool, the Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street column suggested yesterday that Disney might be eyeing EA. The WSJ apparently based their speculation on comments made by Disney's Chief Financial Officer during a conference call on Tuesday. From the Fool:
Asked if Disney's focus would be on developing in-house games over buying more developers, [CFO Tom] Staggs responded, "I don't want you to conclude that those are in the long term mutually exclusive." He went on to say that a "strategic and attractive" purchase would be "a possibility" for the family entertainment giant.
Did he say Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS)? No. However, a combination of EA's battered share price and Disney's desire to ramp up its gaming presence dovetail nicely in the rumor mill.
The Motley Fool offers five reasons why a Disney takeover of EA makes sense:
Still, The Motley Fool views the chances of a Disney-EA deal as slim. And, it's pretty clear that, when it talks about acquisitions, family-friendly Disney isn't thinking of Take-Two and GTA.
Yesterday, GamePolitics pointed out the hypocrisy of indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who publicly fretted about Grand Theft Auto's cartoon crime but himself managed to carry out what the U.S. Attorney alleges was a political corruption crime spree.
The Wall Street Journal's Deal Journal blog has come up with a different video game angle on the Blagojevich affair, remarking that the disgraved Guv should have paid more attention to this year's failed EA-Take-Two merger:
Before Illinois Gov. Blagojevich allegedly tried to auction off President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder, he might have taken a closer look at the state of deal making this year–which would have told him it never would have worked.
Deal Journal compiled some lessons from this year’s M&A market that might have kept Blogajevich from following temptation into a federal indictment.
Don’t assume you are the only game in town: If prosecutors are right, Blagojevich, accused of looking for either lucre or favors in return for Obama’s Senate seat, made an oft-seen mistake: he believed he had more leverage than he did. Take-Two Interactive Software–maker of the Grand Theft Auto videogame–made the same mistake when it pushed rival Electronic Arts to bid up, up, up for the company. But EA tired of being toyed with and walked away.
The WSJ also jokingly relates Blagojevich's relentless pursuit of graft to several other non-game biz deals.
SCi, the parent company of Tomb Raider publisher Eidos, is apparently a takeover target.
UK newspaper the Daily Mail reports that Electronic Arts and Ubisoft are both considering an acquisition of the troubled firm.
Given that SCi is on hard times, EA and Ubi are no doubt enticed by the prospect of picking up Eidos's popular Tomb Raider and Hitman franchises on the cheap. From the Daily Mail story:
[The merger talk] follows a nightmare year for the firm in which its losses have quadrupled and the share price has slumped 92 per cent... From a peak of £1billion at the height of the dotcom boom it is worth just £50million today... As recently as a year ago the games developer was worth more than £600million.
But a series of self-inflicted wounds coupled with the precipitous slide in the stock market have conspired to drag the shares down from a 12 month peak of 243p to just 18½p yesterday...
The source said the suitors have been waiting to see if SCi would deliver the latest Lara Croft game, which has been delayed, but finally came out this week in time for Christmas.
Via: Edge Online
Frenetic money man Jim Cramer named Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick to the "Wall of Shame" on his popular Mad Money program yesterday.
Cramer blasted Zelnick and a pair of CEOs from other companies for failing to accept takeover bids and then seeing their stock values collapse.
As has been widely reported on GamePolitics and other sites, Zelnick rejected a $25.74 acquisistion offer from Electronic Arts earlier this year. EA eventually walked away from the deal. The Grand Theft Auto publisher's stock (TTWO) will open at 13.15 this morning. Among Cramer's trashing of the T2 boss:
[EA's offer was] an offer no sane man can refuse. But Strauss Zelnick, Take-two's chairman did just that...
Welcome to the Wall of Shame, Strauss Zelnick. You managed to take a sure thing, a $25 stock and turn it into a $13 one. That takes talent.
Over at Gamasutra, Leigh Alexander serves up a revealing interview with John Riccitiello.
The Electronic Arts CEO dishes on the Spore DRM controversy, EA's abortive merger attempt with Take-Two, and EA's reputation in the gaming community.
Most noteworthy are Riccitiello's comments on the furor whipped up by Spore's much-maligned copy protection scheme:
I personally hate DRM. I don’t like the whole concept; it can be a little bit cumbersome. But I don’t like locks on my door, and I don’t like to use keys in my car... I’d like to live in a world where there are no passports. Unfortunately, we don’t – and I think the vast majority of people voted with their wallets and went out and bought Spore...
Everyone gets that we need some level of protection, or we’re going to be in business for free... [But it was] a minority of [anti-DRM] people that orchestrated a great PR program. They picked the highest-profile game they could find. I respect them for the success of their movement.
I'm guessing that half of them were pirates, and the other half were people caught up in something that they didn’t understand. If I’d had a chance to have a conversation with them, they’d have gotten it... There are different ways to do DRM; the most successful is what WoW does. They just charge you by the month.