Electronic Arts has agreed to buy out UK developer Codemasters in a move that could see the US publishing giant wrest control of the racing video game genre. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year for £6.04 (~$7.98) a share, valuing Codemasters at around $1.2 billion.
Sky News first reported EA’s interest in Codemasters over the weekend, saying that the British company had previously agreed a $970 million deal with Rockstar Games and 2K Sports owner Take-Two Interactive. EA confirmed the agreement early Monday morning.
Codemasters is one of the oldest British game developers, having been founded in the ‘80s and producing early hits like Dizzy for systems that were popular in the UK like the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64. In recent decades it’s been best known for creating racing games like the Dirt, Grid, and Formula 1 series, and last year acquired the developer behind Project Cars.
EA, of course, owns the Need for Speed franchise, so the Codemasters addition would give it further control over a huge chunk of the racing game market. The main competitors would be Sony’s Gran Turismo and Microsoft’s Forza series, both of which are exclusive to their publisher’s respective consoles.
“We believe there is a deeply compelling opportunity in bringing together Codemasters and Electronic Arts to create amazing and innovative new racing games for fans,” EA CEO Andrew Wilson says in a statement. “Our industry is growing, the racing category is growing, and together we will be positioned to lead in a new era of racing entertainment.”
“Electronic Arts and Codemasters have a shared ambition to lead the video game racing category,” says Codemasters chairman Gerhard Florin. “The Board of Codemasters firmly believes the company would benefit from EA’s knowledge, resources and extensive global scale — both overall and specifically within the racing sector. We feel this union would provide an exciting and prosperous future for Codemasters, allowing our teams to create, launch and service bigger and better games to an extremely passionate audience.”