EA spends US$860m on Bono-backed games firms

12 Oct 2007

US gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA) has acquired the parent company of two major computer game developers from the venture capital company Elevation Partners, of which U2 lead singer Bono is a leading partner.

EA yesterday agreed to acquire VG Holdings, the parent company of two game development companies BioWare and Pandemic Studios for US$860m.

BioWare is the games publisher behind new titles like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights and a handful of Star Wars titles. Pandemic is the firm behind the Mercenaries franchise and Destroy All Humans.

But of particular interest to EA is 10 or so upcoming games form the companies’ stable including Mercenaries 2 and Mass Effect.

EA’s motivation behind the acquisition is to return to pole position in the games league after being pipped at the post by Activision, which brought out the blockbuster franchise Guitar Hero.

In related news Activision bought Irish games software company DemonWare earlier this year for US$15m.

EA chief executive John Riccitiello recently returned to the top job at the company after leaving the position in 2004. Prior to his return to EA he also was a partner at Elevation Partners.

Irish singer Bono became a managing partner in Elevation in 2004 as one of six other managing partners in the venture capital firm. Other partners in the company include Apple’s former finance chief Fred Anderson, former Electronics Arts president John Riccitiello and veteran technology investor Roger McNamee.

The aim of Elevation is to identify and invest in opportunities in the media and entertainment worlds.

By John Kennedy