Just five days before Christmas, with many game industry staffers already on vacation, Electronic Arts dropped an explosive bit of news on the wires. In a short press release, it acknowledged having purchased an estimated $85-$100 million worth of Ubisoft shares.
The move--a surprise to the vast majority of industry observers--gave it a 19.9 percent ownership position in one of its most daunting competitors. Wedbush Morgan senior analyst Michael Pachter told GameSpot, "I think EA is interested in Ubisoft's development talent and in its Gameloft investment [in wireless games]."
But is that all? "I don't know if EA wants to take them out," Pachter said, "but given that Ubi has a pretty strong set of licenses and great development--with a more Euro-centric sales profile--it's a combination that makes sense from EA's perspective."
Pachter clearly assesed the stock acquisition as something less benign than how EA had earlier portrayed it. "EA is not in the business of making passive investments in public companies," Pachter concluded.
Regardless of its motives, the builders of famous franchises that include Madden and Medal of Honor now own a block of Ubisoft shares second in size only to the chunk owned by the company's founders, one of whom is its CEO and president, Yves Guillemot.
News source: GameSpot