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F1 2021

The EA takeover of Codemasters is getting closer

Lewis Hamilton F1 2020 Wet Russia Sochi

Renowned racing game video game developer Codemasters – purveyor of titles such as DIRT 5, DiRT Rally 2.0, Formula 1 and GRID – is now edging closer to a buy-out by Californian giant Electronic Arts.

In what has been somewhat of a saga, Codemasters has been led by Frank Sagnier since 2014 through some tumultuous times and now onto a sale reportedly worth $1.2 billion – a turnaround of meteoric proportions.

The deal was voted through by EA shareholders on Wednesday 3rd February but faces a court hearing on 16th February 2021 to legally sanction the acquisition and be approved by competitive laws. The new expected completion date is the first quarter of this year.

The ball started rolling with an initial off from Take-Two Interactive in November 2020 for ~$1 billion. Then EA crashed the party with its larger bid in December. January 2021 saw Take-Two decline to take up the option of a fresh bid and now we have ended up here, with one corporation now owning Burnout, Real Racing, Need for Speed, DIRT, DiRT Rally, GRID, ONRUSH (RIP) and Formula 1 franchises.

Except, it’s much more than that. Remember, that Codemasters has acquired the official FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) licence from 2023 onwards and in 2019 it purchased Slightly Mad Studios for $30 million, creators of the Project CARS and Fast & Furious titles.

That’s a lot of racing videos games under one roof, raising concerns on if EA will mothball some titles to streamline operations. In addition, Codemasters uses its own propriety game engine, EGO, while the Slightly Mad subsidiary uses its MADNESS ENGINE. How EA’s Frostbite technology, currently used to create Need for Speed games, Autolog and Ultimate Team fits into future releases remains to be seen.

What we do know is, thanks to an EA presentation, that it will “enable EA to release new racing experiences annually.”

If you stop to think about that for a second, there is one F1 game per year from Codemasters already, then throw in WRC from 2023 and that is two yearly releases guaranteed before you consider the other game types.

Essentially, this presentation tells us absolutely nothing new.

The document scores strong for investor buzzword bingo, a solid 8/10. The Codemasters’ acquisition will “create value”, “[make EA] a global leader in racing entertainment” and “accelerate development innovation.”

We’ll have more on the EA-Codemasters courtship as and when we get it. Please let us know in the comments what you think will happen next and which games you think will be produced.

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