Apple buying gaming studio EA might seem like a strange proposition, but it wouldn’t be the craziest deal we’ve seen in recent months. Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard for $69 billion. Then, Sony got Bungie for $3.6 billion. Microsoft and Sony are active players in the console gaming business, so the acquisitions are logical developments.
Apple isn’t necessarily a top candidate for buying a game publisher valued at $36 billion. But the iPhone maker is interested in making more money from services. It operates its own premium gaming service for iPhone, iPad, and Mac called Apple Arcade. But Apple isn’t the only potential EA suitor. A report claims that Amazon, Comcast, and Disney are also interested.
Apple isn’t even the primary candidate for the EA acquisition, according to Puck. The report focuses on Comcast’s intention of scoring the deal. The two parties have been negotiating after news of the Microsoft-Activision deal broke.
It’s not just Comcast looking to buy EA, as the games studio has been looking for a purchase/merger.
Comcast’s Brian Roberts reportedly approached EA CEO Andrew Wilson with a proposal to spin off NBCUniversal and merge the media and gaming giants. The two parties have negotiated the terms of the merger for several weeks. The resulting entity would have had Wilson as the CEO. NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell would have received another role at Comcast. But the deal fell apart over disagreements over price and structure.
Unsurprisingly, EA would not confirm such rumors. But Comcast isn’t the only play for the gaming giant. The same report notes that EA would love a deal with Disney, especially considering the latter owns ESPN. EA, meanwhile, makes several sports-centric games that would benefit from a partnership with ESPN.
However, Disney has decided not to pursue the EA purchase. The studio’s primary focus remains on growing Disney Plus’s subscriber count. Disney Bob Chapek is reportedly interested in the Indian Premier League, which could bolster its numbers in specific international markets.
Why buying EA makes sense for Apple
EA has had talks with Apple and Amazon as well, according to sources familiar with the matter. There are no specifics about these discussions, however.
According to some of Puck’s sources, EA is interested in pursuing a sale. Others told the site that EA is primarily looking for a merger arrangement that would allow Wilson to continue serving as the resulting company’s CEO.
The latter is hardly likely the deal that Apple would ever go for. But buying a big games studio like EA makes sense for Tim Cook’s Apple. The company wants gaming to be a core part of its products. That much is clear from its Apple Arcade product that offers access to a growing collection of mobile games for just $5 a month.
EA games are in a different league than what you’ll find on Apple Arcade, but that’s exactly why Apple might consider spending so much money. Last year, Apple showed that its newest MacBook Pro chips could outperform the PS5. That means they could run console-grade titles. We noted at the time that the problem was that developers did not see Macs as gaming devices. They have little incentive to optimize games for macOS.
Moreover, Apple will soon unveil its expensive mixed reality glasses that can support both VR and AR content. Apple can benefit from having as much VR-ready content as possible, and VR games will be an integral part of that.
Finally, Apple has the cash to make such an expensive acquisition possible. Apple’s most significant purchase was the $3 billion Beats acquisition in 2014 which gave the company immediate access to a highly coveted headphones brand and helped jump-start its Apple Music streaming service.
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