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Disney execs want to buy EA and become a ‘gaming giant’ but their boss isn’t so sure

Disney execs want to buy EA and become a ‘gaming giant’ but their boss isn’t so sure
Could EA Sports FC become a Disney property? (pic: Wikipedia)

Bob Iger is being advised to buy EA and all its developers, as Disney considers whether it wants to re-enter the games industry as a major player.

Given their traditional audience, you might have imagined that Disney would’ve been an early pioneer in the video games industry, but they’ve always been strangely disinterested. That level of disinterest has varied over the decades, but they’ve often gone years without any major internal developers and usually just licence out their properties to other companies.

That’s the situation they’re in at the moment, as they licence Star Wars and Marvel to various different publishers. Games based on their classic properties are less common but there’s still things like Disney Dreamlight Valley – even if the last time they tried to make an original title was the (excellent) Split/Second in 2010.

However, it seems they may be having one of their periodic changes of heart, with various execs supposedly pushing the idea of transforming Disney into a ‘gaming giant’ by… acquiring EA.

EA has been the subject of acquisition speculation before, with many worrying that Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda and Activision Blizzard would lead to other major companies making a grab for any remaining third party publishers.

The idea that that would include Disney is not new, but the problem is that current CEO Bob Iger seems especially ambivalent towards video games and has apparently been noncommittal about the prospect of buying EA, despite the advice of his deputies.

Although it’s no longer the only publisher using the licence, EA has been making Star Wars games for almost a decade now and also recently got the licence to make games based on Marvel characters, including Black Panther and Iron Man .

This is especially true as Marvel is reported to be planning an ‘internal shift’ to focus more on video games. Although it’s unclear whether that’s related to this latest talk of buying EA.

In that sense an acquisition would make a lot of sense, but Iger has already ignored one opportunity to foster in-house game development, after immediately selling off the FoxNext games division when Disney bought 20th Century Fox.

At that time, he said: ‘We’ve just decided that the best place for us to be in that space [i.e. video games] is licensing and not publishing.’

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There’s no sign that his attitude has changed but the Bloomberg article which highlighted the EA plans is about all of Iger’s various problems at the moment, where he was brought out of retirement to lead Disney but has so far failed to have any positive impact.

If others convince him that buying EA would be a good idea then the video game landscape will see a seismic shift; especially if Disney’s interest in games proves to be as fleeting as usual and EA get a taste of their own medicine, in terms of what usually happens when a larger company buys a smaller one.

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