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EA aquires Bioware and Pandemic

Mass Effect XIV scheduled for December then?

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Gaming megapublisher and dev sweat shop operator Electronic Arts plans to buy VG Holding Corp, owner of BioWare and Pandemic Studios, for $860m.

The sum will give EA ownership of both BioWare's and Pandemic's IPs, including Jade Empire, Mass Effect Dragon Age and Baldur's Gate.

EA will pay $620m in cash to stockholders, as well as $155m in equity to "certain employees of VG Holding," assume $50m in outstanding stock, and loan the company up to $35m.

"These are two of the most respected studios in the industry and I'm glad to be working with them again. They'll make a strong contribution to our strategic growth initiatives on quality, online gaming and developing new intellectual properties," said John Riccitello, EA CEO. "We also expect this will drive long-term value for our shareholders."

Gaming fan concerns over EA's, um, quantitative approach to the market may not be unfounded. The BBC reports that EA plans to release four or five games a year from the new studios.

The acquisition is subject to the regular gang of customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. It's expected to close in January 2008. ®

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