EA is buying Titanfall creators Respawn

EA's acquisitions team, yesterday

The earth-encrusted behemoth known as EA is buying robot-befriending studio Respawn Entertainment for as much as $455 million. The publisher is going to pay $315 million in stock and cash, and a further $140 million if the Titanfall creators hit their “incentive targets” – in other words, if the games they’re currently working on get an aesthetically pleasant arbitrary number on Metacritic when they’re released. The rock-em-sock-em-up makers had been offered a deal by South Korean publisher Nexon, according to Kotaku, which EA had 30 days to match. Looks like they decided to do that.

“We have worked together a long time from the inception of the studio,” said Vince Zampella, CEO of Respawn, in an interview with Venturebeat. “[An acquisition] has come up from time to time. The question was, where we are in the industry, how do we take the next step in making bigger, better games. We see the need for bigger resources to make bigger games.”

Respawn has been working on a Star Wars game we know little about, except that it’s a “third-person action adventure”. Visceral Games were also working on a similar but separate Star Wars project for EA, until they were shut down. So this must feel like being summoned to the emperor’s court to replace the advisor he just executed for not obeying “fundamental shifts in the marketplace”. But Vince Zampella,  does not think so.

“This is a great next step for Respawn, EA, and our players,” he said.

Titanfall 2 was good, but its release date was sorely sandwiched between two bigger and flashier shooters in last year’s wave of winter games – Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1 – which is generally seen as a reason it didn’t sell as well.

67 Comments

  1. Pich says:

    welp. farewell Titanfall, it was good ’till it lasted.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Im calling it now. 2 years till we see the headline “EA is shutting down Titanfall Creators Respawn”

      • woodsey says:

        It’ll be closer to ten.

        They need a hit, then something of an ebb, then a studio rename, and then they’ll polish someone else’s unwanted DLC a while before putting their head to the curb.

  2. Spacewalk says:

    Yep, that’s them gone.

  3. Premium User Badge

    The Almighty Moo says:

    “I do not know with what weapons Titanfall III will be fought, but Titanfall IV will be fought with loot crates and micro DLC”

  4. cakeisalie says:

    No doubt they’ll be eventually be closed and absorbed like every other studio EA has bought (Bullfrog, Westwood, Visceral, etc).

    • Anti-Skub says:

      First of all. Visceral? You’re aware that that is an EA studio right? Created by EA, not bought by EA. Why exactly does EA only get credit for their failure, and not their success?

      And like virtually every other studio EA has bought the reason they were sold is because they were already circling the drain. It wasn’t EA that destroyed Bullfrog. It was Molyneux. He sold the company and took the position as Vice President, but then realised he didn’t like being a Vice President so quit and took half the company with him. Bullfrog wasn’t killed by EA, it was fucked up by Molyneux and turned in Lionshead…now go follow the tragic story of that doomed developer…see how good they were at getting themselves shut down without EA?

      Like those previous occasions, what this means is that instead of Respawn just collapsing and being shut down due to two big budget financial flops, EA will buy them and keep them afloat for another couple of games before pulling the plug. Or would you prefer that they just shut the doors now? Because that’s what the alternative will be.

      • HeavyStorm says:

        And what about Westwood? Seriously, because until you said so I had thought EA has destroyed Bullfrog.

      • Excors says:

        The article already mentions another alternative: getting bought by Nexon.

        (I don’t know if that’d be better or worse than EA, but apparently Nexon publishes LawBreakers so they’ve got some good experience in how to sell decent PC games to very few people.)

        • jezcentral says:

          I get what you mean, but technically, Nexon turned out not to be an alternative available to them. EA contractually had first dibs on Respawn. Respawn couldn’t choose to go to Nexon, EA had to let them go.

          • wackazoa says:

            Sounds to me like one of those obligation type things, kind of like Vivendi and Ubisoft with the take over. EA was obligated to either buy Respawn or lose everything they are doing and losing a ton of money. Respawn under not EA couldn’t/wouldn’t make Titanfall or the Star Wars games. So for EA to avoid losing a ton of money in the works, and all the money they spent helping to start Respawn it seems like, EA was obligated to buy Respawn.

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        What about Maxis? Or Westwood, or Origin, or Black Box? All of them circling the drain were they? Those games with very successful franchises? Sorry but don’t be such a fuckin apologist, it’s not like they need defending for their morally bankrupt behaviour.

        • Anti-Skub says:

          Maxis’s great success was The Sims, and it came long after EA’s acquisition. Sim City and Sim City 2000 were the only games of note that they released as an independent. They were acquired by EA and then went onto have a decade and a half of success. That’s more than most games studios can say.

          Black Box, again, did very little before they became big. A couple of NHL games and a Nascar game. The games they are known for, Need for Speed and Skate…entirely produced after the takeover. Or are you saying you think they went downhill after NASCAR 2001?

          Origin? Much like Bioware and Bullfrog the reason for the acquisition seems to have a lot to do with the CEO getting bored with the work, and starting to let his hand slip from the wheel. You only needed to play Tabula Rasa to truly realise how little fucks Richard Garriott gave by the end of his career. That game came out, was an absolute disaster, and just as it needed the most attention from it’s devs in the weeks after launch, Garriott announces he’s going on holiday to space.

          As for Westwood. I’d like you to go google the founding members. Check out the shit show that have been their careers since. When it comes to games development, or anything technical really, being good in the past does not guarantee they’ll be good in the future. Plenty of studios shut down by simply failing to move with the times. Westwood is definitely the best argument you’ve come up with here, but games developers that manage to span 3 decades are few and far between.

          The fact of the matter is, the games industry is ruthless, and developers shut down and pop up ALL the time. Every time it’s an EA subsidiary though, people love to point at it like it’s proof of how awful EA are…like studios don’t shutdown outside EA. It’s made particularly ridiculous because this most recent fad of doing this was started when Visceral died. Visceral being an entirely EA run studio from the start. Which effectively means people are yelling “Fucking EA, ruining EA” and not understanding why that is as dumb a thing to say as it is.

          I’m not saying EA are great or anything, but the whole “Worst company in the world” thing, to me, isn’t indicative of how bad the company is. It instead highlights just how much gamers love to bitch and moan about stuff they really don’t know anything about. They should rename that award to “Company with the worst customers”…because that’s what really determines the winner.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Yeah, I know a number of folks whose game company livelihoods got bought up by EA. Huge percentage of them spit on the ground when EA gets mentioned. Being acquired by EA is the kiss of death, applied in a slow, draining, vampiric pavanne.

  5. N'Al says:

    They’re not gonna respawn from this one.

  6. Chiller says:

    Couple of years down the line…
    Industry headline: “EA shuts down Respawn”
    “Did honestly not see that coming at all” – Respawn CEO

  7. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    Farewell Respawn, we hardly knew ye.

  8. ran93r says:

    DICE haven’t done too badly under EA, one can only hope Respawn come out with their dignity intact.

    Titanfall 2 is an underappreciated masterpiece and I have barely even touched it’s multiplayer, supposedly the meat of the title. It’s single player campaign, in this age of loot crate bullshit, is wonderful. It alone would have been responsible for me picking up another Titanfall game.

    Fingers crossed the shareholders don’t royally fuck it up.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      *the shareholders lean back from their notepads, stethoscopes falling from the walls of Castle RPS, and twiddle their grin-obscuring mustaches*

    • April March says:

      Honestly, I think EA execs are as puzzled by Titanfall’s failure to lauch as Respawn. It’s rare to see a title that’s well liked by both critics and marketers flounder the way it has.

  9. rustybroomhandle says:

    *sound of rifle getting cocked*

  10. ThePeon26 says:

    All I can think off is this.

    Another one bites the dust
    Another one bites the dust
    And another one gone, and another one gone
    Another one bites the dust, yeah
    Hey, I’m gonna get you too
    Another one bites the dust

    • fray_bentos says:

      Thanks for this; I could never work out what was said in the flurry of words that you inform me is “Hey, I’m gonna get you too”, and was never bothered enough to look it up!

  11. Arithon says:

    Based on the EA Graveyard of previous acquisitions, Respawn employees have roughly three years to find other jobs before the doors close for good.
    Happy job hunting!

  12. skyturnedred says:

    It’s not like they didn’t have one foot in the door ever since they started.

  13. Axolotl says:

    Bye bye Respawn.

  14. Text_Fish says:

    Closed within five years.

  15. Daymare says:

    I wrote this, I don’t know why. Please forgive me.

    The Curious Case of the Voluntary Murder Victims (excerpt)
    ————————————————————————–

    Lestrade and I returned to Sherlock’s office. Hhis room was locked. Lestrade, of infinite patience, rapped at the door as if Hell itself had gathered behind our backs. “Holmes!” he yelled against the wooden laths. We heard a sudden yelp, a soft bump, then the sound of many smaller items hitting the floor. After a while, the door slowly crept open.

    “Please, inspector”, Sherlock winced, “Is it necessary for London’s prime voice of the Law to be this loud at … what time is it?

    “It’s five o’clock, sir.”

    “My goodness, man! Do you never sleep?”

    “Five o’clock in the afternoon, Sherlock”, I took the liberty to explain.

    “That’s what confounds me so about you, Lestrade”, said Sherlock, shaking his head as if in disappointment. He finally let us enter and immediately slumped over on his chair: “Of course, I don’t need to strain my mental faculties to tell you didn’t come here just to hand me my morning scones. Sometimes, Lestrade, the absence of things might be just as enlightening as their presence. Judging from the chain of cases that led you to my office the last five times, I assume it’s our shadowy assailant again?”

    “Indeed, sir. Just like last time. No sign of struggle. As if the man gave his life willingly.”

    “Let’s not jump to any hasty conclusions! Watson, you’ve been with the inspector. Perhaps a suicide?”

    “I don’t believe so”, I replied. “I found something odd about the corpse: As if the man had been starved and subsequently bled dry. Not a trace of creativity left in the body.”

    Holmes had already finished his own deductions and completed my explanation: “And then, with no creative power of his own, he became a puppet to someone’s whims. Until these whims spelled ‘Death’.

    “A propos spelling. We found the another message on the scene. It’s In The Game.”

    Hearing these words, my old friend looked terribly worried. “You have the victim’s name, I presume?”

    “One John Visceral.”

    “That makes six murdered authors, then.”

    “Jim Maxis, Jake Bullfrog, Jack Bioware, Joe Pandemic and Jason Westwood”, the inspector read, adding: “But we’ve also got a number of yet-unidentified corpses in our morgue.”

    “I’ve read Visceral’s ‘Spaces of the Dead’ some time ago”, Sherlock nodded. “His second book shook me to the core. The dread invoked rivals Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’. Yet there was something odd about his last entry”, my friend became thoughful. “It wasn’t anything like the others. As if somebody had forced changes into his narration — changes which weren’t quite his own. To a careful reader, they couldn’t be anything but intentional perversions of his work.”

    “Terrible”, I agreed. “But who could do such a thing? Why ruin a perfectly fine author’s work?”

    At this point in our musing, a young officer arrived. He had obviously been in quite a hurry and seemed most perturbed. “It’s ‘appened ag’in!”, he said perhaps a bit too loudly.

    “This soon?” Sherlock looked troubled. “Yet another author, I presume?”

    “I wouldn’t know, sir. A Johnson Respawn. Never ‘eard of ‘im.”

    “Why, the widely acclaimed release of his second ‘Titan’s Fall’ was just last year!”, Sherlock grumbled. “Perhaps, young man, a bit of reading wouldn’t hurt too much? The Queen herself was enraptured by it!”

    The young man’s eyes jumped between the three of us, looking for help. “The murderer, ‘e left behind the same message!” he blurted.

    There was an awful silence.

    “It’s In The Game”, Holmes finished darkly.

    “Tha’s correct, sir.”

    “By God”, Sherlock whispered. “Will the killing never stop?”

  16. rustybroomhandle says:

    Bioware lasted quite a while, but it’s starting to look like they’re soon to be gone too.

  17. zulnam says:

    Wow, almost as if EA demanded that release window so that the game performs poorly and they get the chance to buy the developer company.

  18. BooleanBob says:

    It’s funny, I read games sites whose audiences run the gamut from bleeding-heart liberals to angry right-wing reactionaries, and the only time their comment sections look identical across the board is when EA purchases a developer.

  19. Kollega says:

    Well, I guess this rules out the possibility of a good Titanfall 3. Or, more likely, any kind of Titanfall 3.

    I just wish that either the means of production of good shooter games became so affordable that we’d have a glut of single-player shooters carried by small indie teams, be they new or experienced… or that the current AAA gaming market, with its ludicrious marketing budgets, frankly unreasonable obsession with having the best production values and most #content, and utter dependence on first-week blitz sales, collapsed already so that the publishers have to come grovelling to us instead of us coming grovelling to them.

  20. Crusoe says:

    RIP.

    They made bank at least. In this day and age, what else is important?

  21. Kunstbanause says:

    RIP

  22. Zaxwerks says:

    *falls to knees, tears streaming down face, looks up to the heavens* NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!
    *insert dramatic camera pullback from face*

  23. Hans says:

    Didn’t Respawn form in the first place from people who quit Activision because of all the corporate interference? I’m sure it will be fine…

  24. GemFire81 says:

    Oh cool , EA is ready to destroy even more gaming. Glad i dont play Titanfall. I cant even put into words how much hate I have for EA. Greedest , biggest joke of a company EVER.

  25. Ootmians says:

    Oh, good. It’s been a while. I’ve been wondering when EA was going to get back on the horse and devour/ruin/close a new studio.

  26. Ootmians says:

    Hmmm, a successful studio with a Star Wars game in the works gets gobbled up by EA. Deja vu?

    I sense a disturbance in the Force, like hundreds of developers crying out…

  27. Darth Gangrel says:

    Respawn: You’re gravely mistaken. EA won’t shut me down as it did the others.

    RPS commenters: Oh no, my young developer. You will find that it is you who are mistaken, about a great many things… such as fundamental shifts in the marketplace.

    • emotionengine says:

      Titanfall fans: You were the Chosen One! You were supposed to destroy lootboxes and P2W microtransactions, not join them. You were supposed to bring balance to triple A gaming, not leave it in darkness.

      Respawn: I hate you!

      Everyone: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

  28. tslog says:

    So Zampella and West after deciding to start Respawn due to the mistreatment by Activision, then decide to screw over their own workmates even harder by signing onto EA who is even worse. The Hypocrisy is disgusting. Zampella snd West and Who ever else is involved can go F### themselves.

    Anyone at respawn who can leave, I’d recommended immediately.

    Oh and I don’t really care much for the Titanfall games. 2 was all right. Way overrated campaign.

    • wackazoa says:

      I don’t know for sure, so don’t hold me to this, but it could have been that EA was obligated to buy Respawn. In business deals there are sometimes stipulations in contracts blah blah blah.

      Think of it like this. Ubisoft. If Vivendi were to make a buy out offer, then Ubisoft would either HAVE to accept or find someone else willing to pay the same or more. Either another company or the Guillemots. If Ubisoft couldn’t find another buyer, then Ubisoft would have no choice other than to accept Vivendis offer. At least that is the way I understand the reading.

      Perhaps the same with EA. They either had to buy Respawn, or lose everything Respawn was working on (EA still holds the rights, so Respawn couldn’t take it with them.) and any money that EA had invested previously. So EA buys Respawn. I don’t have access to the paperwork so couldn’t be %100 about this, but seems likely.

  29. someoneelse84 says:

    OH come on guys, EA aren’t that bad, right? Hehe?

  30. Heptapod says:

    R.I.P. Respawn…

  31. Ham Solo says:

    I give ’em one more Titanfall game, just infested with terrible microtransactions and lootboxes, that plays and looks like CoD. After that the studio will be destroyed by EA.

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