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EA swallows Criterion Software

Games behemoth gains control of RenderWare

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Electronic Arts has acquired UK-based Criterion Software Group from current owners Canon. The move gives EA control of Criterion's portfolio which includes games series Burnout and - most significantly - the company's RenderWare technology.

EA chairman and CEO Larry Probst said: "This is a great fit. Criterion offers us studio talent and a proven management team, globally recognized intellectual property and technology infrastructure that will accelerate our readiness on the next generation of consoles."

By "technology infrastructure" Probst means not just the existing RenderWare tools but also RenderWare4, which will, according to Criterion CEO David Lau-Kee "boost development efforts on the next generation of consoles which are expected to debut over the next two years".

Although EA will continue to license RenderWare to third parties who have used it to develop all-time favourites such as Grand Theft Auto, the BBC notes that the giant's control of the middleware may push developers towards other alternatives, such as Microsoft's cross-platform XNA for X-Box, and Windows and Window's mobile.

Nevertheless, Criterion seems chipper about the deal. Company supremo Fiona Sperry said: "Our mission has always been to create exciting new franchises that appeal to the widest possible audience. Within EA, we can now secure our future as one of the world's leading development studios."

The deal should be confirmed within 30-45 days, "subject to regulatory clearances". EA notes: "Criterion will be managed from EA's UK Studio in nearby Chertsey, Surrey; the RenderWare business will remain in the UK at a separate location. RenderWare will be managed apart from EA's local studios." ®

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