Games giant Electronic Arts is set to acquire the British video-game-maker Codemasters, in a deal worth an estimated $1.2bn (£1bn).
Codemasters is best known for its racing games, including the Dirt Rally series and Formula 1 licences. EA owns the global franchise to Need for Speed.
Codemasters had said it would recommend its shareholders accept an earlier offer, by one of EA’s main rivals.
New-York- based Take-Two Interactive had offered a package worth $973m.
Codemasters’ senior management team, including the chief executive and chief financial officer, would remain with the company during the transition to EA, with the deal expected to be completed by the end of March 2021, it said.
Chairman Gerhard Florin said the company would “benefit from EA’s knowledge, resources and extensive global scale – both overall and specifically within the racing sector”.
Founded in 1986 by brothers David and Richard Darling, Codemasters is headquartered in Warwickshire. EA is based in California.
EA’s move has come as a surprise – most people thought Take-Two’s proposal last month was pretty much a done deal, and Codemasters itself had supported the earlier buy-out plan.
In the UK, older gamers are affectionately nostalgic about Codemasters games, and it is very much a British success story.
It was founded by two brothers who were making games in the 1980s when they were school boys, with their dad brought in to help them when the business took off beyond far beyond their expectations.
When I tweeted about the news people started sharing with me nostalgic pictures of games purchased on cassette for retro computers like the ZX Spectrum. But the firm continues to push out successful titles, most notably racing games.
There is some concern about what changes a giant like EA might bring to favourites like Dirt Rally and some muttering about whether it could choose to introduce micro-transactions, a form of monetisation in which players play extra small amounts for added features. Popular with game sellers, less so with gamers.
That said – there is still a chance that Take-Two could respond with a better offer, and spark a bidding war between the two US gaming giants. This particular race is not won quite yet.