Nexon, a South Korean developer and publisher of free-to-play games currently headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, has offered to buy Electronic Arts according to Bloomberg News. EA shares have responded accordingly.
This comes on the heels of Nexon’s announcement last week that the firm was looking to buy up developers, leading to a large spike in Nexon shares. The publisher raised $1.2 billion last year in Japan’s biggest IPO of 2011, and has seen rapid growth in recent years.
EA is a big game publisher, but apparently not so big that other bigger fish can’t swoop in for a buy-out. Whether even further conglomeration of the game publishing industry would be a good thing for games or for gamers is an open question.
On the one hand, we’ve seen publishers buying out developers and growing bigger over the years; on the other hand, we’re seeing the rise of crowd-funded indie developers. Where both these trends will lead is impossible to say.
Nexon specializes in free-to-play MMORPGs. If the company intends to buy EA, this would likely be a good way for them to branch out into numerous other genres. Since EA has been making noise about creating “online universes” for all their games, creating essentially multi-platform releases for all their titles similar to the release of Mass Effect 3, Nexon’s expertise with the micro-transaction business model might make sense.
Still, EA is already massive, and getting bought out by an even larger publisher might not make the company any more responsive to the many, growing customer concerns plaguing the company, which won the not-so-coveted “Worst Company in America” award this year from The Consumerist.
It’s all speculation and rumor at this point, in any case, but given the momentum toward online, F2P games, this wouldn’t surprise me in the least.