Electronic Arts Offers $2 Billion Merger for Take-Two

Electronic Arts (EA) made public Sunday that it had offered US$2 billion in cold, hard cash for Take-Two Interactive. The offer was made public after Take-Twois management team rejected a private offer with the same terms from EA on Tuesday, February 19th. EA hopes that making the offer public will induce pressure from Take-Twois shareholders as the $26 per share price represents a 64% premium on Take-Twois stock price as of February 15th, 2008.

Much of that premium has since disappeared, however, as Take-Twois stock shot up $8.36 per share, a 48.16% gain, and is currently trading at $25.72 per share. That rise, of course, is predicated on this buyout offer, and would likely evaporate should the offer continue to be rejected or withdrawn.

EA recently returned to the Mac platform with the release of Madden NFL 08, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08, Need for Speed Carbon, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Battlefield 2142. Those five games were announced with great fanfare at Appleis 2007 World Wide Developer Conference during Steve Jobs keynote event on June 11th. EA has not announced any new Mac titles since that time, but does have a dedicated Mac platform Web page.

For its part, Take-Two offers no direct Mac support for current titles, but does license Mac ports to such companies as Aspyr.

As the Mac platform continues to grow, consolidation in the game development and publishing businesses might eventually be relevant to Mac gamers. The gaming business has seen intensifying pressures as development costs rise ever higher, even while revenues are also on the rise.

Because of those development costs, however, games need to sell, and sell big, in order to turn a profit, and this has led to large companies like EA and Activision have been gobbling up independent studios and other publishers like mad. For instance, Activision now owns Blizzard, which makes Mac versions for all of its games, including the genre-crushing World of Warcraft MMO.

Take-Two owns Rockstar Studios and its Grand Theft Auto franchise -- not available on the Mac -- which likely figures in to why EA wants to buy the company.