Electronic Arts (EA) will acquire Respawn Entertainment in a surprise deal. The video game developer - created by former Infinity Ward executives and Call of Duty creators Jason West and Vince Zampella - burst onto the scene in 2014 with their Xbox exclusive shooter game, Titanfall. The independent studio initially formed in 2010 and was funded through EA's Partners Program, but it took them some time to get off the ground.
Titanfall was an enormous success for the studio, having sold upwards of four million copies on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One; an impressive feat considering that it was the first title for the new studio as well as one of the first major titles for Microsoft's new video game console. Respawn immediately began working on the sequel, Titanfall 2, which released in October 2016 on both the Xbox One and PS4, as well as PC, and the game has been considered a vast improvement from the first installment. Now, in addition to partnering with Oculus on an unknown VR title, Respawn's success and close association with EA has enabled them to develop their own Star Wars game - but that's not the only thing that's coming out of their partnership with EA.
Related: Titanfall 2 Deserves Your Attention
EA has announced plans today to acquire Respawn Entertainment for $151 million in cash and up to $164 million in long-term equity. The acquisition is expected to complete by the end of 2017, with the studio taking Visceral Games' open spot within EA's Worldwide Studios.
The fact that EA acquired Respawn isn't concerning in and of itself; what is concerning is the timing of the acquisition. EA recently shuttered Dead Space developer Visceral Games (formerly known as EA Redwood Shores) and is currently in the process of reworking the game from being an action-adventure single-player title to something akin to DICE's Battlefront series, with a potential multiplayer component and microtransactions to profit from.
As Kotaku's Jason Schreier points out, South Korean video game company Nexon reportedly offered to purchase Respawn Entertainment, but since EA has the right of first refusal - presumably due to Respawn initially being funded through EA's Partners Program - the Redwood-based company shut down Visceral and has possibly used that money (and space) to acquire Respawn and all of its assets. What's more, some fans may be concerned as to the direction Respawn's third-person Star Wars game will take under EA's corporate leadership.
Sequence of events:1) Nexon makes offer for Respawn, per documentation sent to Kotaku2) EA has first right of refusal, per documentation, and can make an offer3) EA shuts down Visceral Games4) EA announces that it has bought Respawn
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) November 9, 2017
Respawn Entertainment's lineup isn't expected to change following EA's acquisition, but considering that EA Vancouver's Star Wars game is being retooled, EA may want Respawn's Star Wars title to progress quicker, while also having the studio continue work on Titanfall 3.
Source: EA, Jason Schreier