Yesterday, a press release from EA confirmed that the company would be acquiring Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment for $455 million. Respawn will become a part of EA’s Worldwide Studios. Previously, they had been an independent arm of the publisher’s EA Partners program.
The press release also revealed that Respawn are currently working on a new Titanfall game, as well as continuing development on their Star Wars game and a recently-announced VR experience. The acquisition comes just three weeks after EA shuttered Visceral Studios and “refocused” Uncharted creator Amy Hennig’s own Star Wars game, Project Ragtag.
Kotaku, citing sources close to the company, reported that EA had exercised their contractual rights and outbid an acquisition attempt from Nexon. Currently, Respawn are working with Nexon in maintaining the Titanfall mobile game, Titanfall: Assault. The report also indicated that the contract includes bonuses tied to Metacritic scores for the Titanfall and Star Wars games.
While the recent Visceral closure and “pivoting” of Hennig’s project may cast a shadow over Respawn’s own Star Wars game, EA maintains that development will continue as planned. In fact, Naughty Dog animator Jonathan Cooper claimed on Twitter that Respawn’s game was “instrumental” in the Visceral closure because “[Respawn’s game] looked so much better in comparison”.
In an interview with GamesBeat, Respawn CEO Vince Zampella explained that an acquisition had been on the table for a while. Speaking of the reasoning behind the deal, he said: “we see the need for bigger resources to make bigger games”.
Zampella also posted a personal letter on the developer’s website, asserting that EA had been a “great partner” and “didn’t interfere with [Respawn’s] process”. He also confirmed that the deal will not result in layoffs or organisational changes.
Respawn was founded in 2010 after Zampella and Jason West were fired from Infinity Ward amid claims that they had been communicating with EA to sabotage Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Respawn’s first game was the Xbox One-exclusive Titanfall, which received a multiplatform sequel in 2016. Both games underperformed despite critical success.
The deal is expected to finalise by the end of 2017.