EA wants Codemasters to retain identity like Respawn

Technology

Last year Electronic Arts swooped in to buy British developer Codemasters for hefty $1.2bn (£851m), and we’re now starting to hear further details about what the publisher plans to do with its new acquisition. In an interview with MCV, EA CEO Andrew Wilson explained that EA wants to give Codemasters the Respawn treatment: in other words, allowing Codemasters to retain its identity without too much outside interference.

“Similar to Respawn, our orientation isn’t to come in and take over Codemasters; our orientation isn’t to come in and turn Codemasters into another Electronic Arts studio; our orientation is around the provision of opportunity,” Wilson said. “This industry is all about amazing, creative talent. And we see little upside in the indoctrination of that amazing creative talent. But we do want to provide them access to the things that we get by virtue of our position in the industry.”

Wilson went on to describe the tools provided by EA as an “amazing cupboard of IP… and technology,” with plenty of “marketing breadth, depth and reach on a global basis” – and said EA was effectively “handing Codemasters a set of keys to the cupboard.

“…They can come and take what they need from the cupboard, but they continue to be who they are, because that’s what made them special in the first place,” Wilson added.

Frank Sagnier, CEO of Codemasters, said that EA “brings scale with its sales and marketing muscles, live services expertise, state of the art analytics platform, EA access, EA Play [and] Origin.” He explained that Codemasters has “had access to every single opportunity”.

“I’m not saying that we’re going to take everything. And that’s why it’s fantastic, EA is offering all the services, but not forcing us if it doesn’t fit. So it really is the perfect world at this point. And this is why I’m so confident about how much EA can bring to Codemasters and hopefully vice versa, because they listen and we listen too.”

Codemasters, of course, is known for racing franchises such as Grid, F1 and Dirt, and it seems EA plans to keep the developer busy. EA has announced it aims to release a racing game every year, drawing from both the Codemasters portfolio and its own franchises such as Need for Speed, Burnout and Real Racing. One that’s lined up for release later this year is F1 2021, set to arrive on 16th July for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One and PC via Steam.

As noted by MCV, EA doesn’t acquire new studios quite as regularly as its competitors, choosing to instead focus on developing a couple of major franchises such as FIFA. The acquisition of Respawn for £315m in 2017 was one of its few major purchases over the last 10 years – one that certainly seems to be paying off for EA thanks to the success of Apex Legends and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – so we’ll have to see if the $1.2bn paid for Codemasters will also prove to be money well spent.