After a failed takeover bid for Eidos back in 2004, the venture capital firm Elevation, which includes rock star Bono on its board of directors, has successfully managed to snag itself a pair of other development houses.
Elevation, which also has former EA president John Riccitiello on its board, has announced the acquisition of development firms BioWare and Pandemic. RPGamers may be more familiar with the former, a Canadian outfit responsible for a string of blockbuster RPGs including the Baldur's Gate series and the more recent Knights of the Old Republic games, in association with Lucasarts.
Styled as a "strategic partnership," Elevation is providing financing for an alliance of the two development houses, and the group is boasting an investment of roughly $300 million. The new partnership will be known as BioWare/Pandemic Studios, and the co-founders of each company will become executives and shareholders in the new organization, while Mr. Riccitiello will be taking over as CEO.
Meanwhile, overall operations will remain more or less constant, with the 400 combined employees receiving stock options and all three studios continuing to operate as before (the new company will boast offices in Edmonton, L.A., and Brisbane, Australia).
Elevation is hoping to circumvent the usual relationship between publisher and developer with the new setup: "Some developers have chosen the path of selling to publishers and thatís a viable path," Resnick stated in a recent interview. "We have specifically chosen not to go down that route because it was important for us to maintain our independence. You know we really look for inspiration in companies like Pixar, because they're able to remain independent from distribution partners and increase their focus on creating great products."
That said, BioWare/Pandemic will attempt to maintain the strong ties that each house has with publishers such as the aforementioned Lucasarts, according to company executives: "They might feel threatened by something like this, but we absolutely see the reverse. We really do look at this new venture as a means to improve our ability to deliver a great product--and that's always good for our publishing partners."
Elevation raised nearly $2 billion in preparation for a move of this nature, and it may yet have further moves up its sleeve. For information on Bioware's various releases, check RPGamer's games directory.