Take-Two Interactive announced today that it will not pursue its planned acquisition of publisher Codemasters. 2K and Rockstar’s parent company originally intended to buy the publisher of the Dirt and Grid games in November for $994 million, but a competing bid from Electronic Arts emerged just weeks later with a value of $1.2 billion.
With Take-Two pulling out of the race, the road ahead seems clear for EA and Codemasters to unify under one roof. If the English and American governments approve the deal, the move will expand EA’s presence in the racing game circuit significantly. The company is already well known for the Need for Speed series and the cult favorite Burnout franchise, but adding Codemasters’ games would also give EA the keys to the publisher’s acclaimed F1 franchise and the exclusive rights to make games based on the World Rally Championship.
Codemasters itself bought Project CARS developer Slightly Mad Studios in 2019. In a roundabout way, the deal between the publisher and EA will reunite Slightly Mad with its original partners, as the studio’s debut games were Need for Speed: Shift and Shift 2: Unleashed in 2009 and 2011. The studio seems to be pulling forward with its ambitious Project CARS 4 for the time being, but a revival of the Shift series would be much more of a possibility down the line if the deal gets approved.
Electronic Arts’ treatment of its former studios and some of the current ones will likely give fans pause about the deal, but Codemasters is doing something rare among publishers: focusing on one genre and making well-crafted games in that space. If the company can still do that while taking advantage of EA’s influence in the industry and resources like EA Play and Xbox Game Pass, the deal could work well for both parties, and fans would still be able to enjoy the franchises they’ve loved for years.
The last big Codemasters game to hit store shelves was Dirt 5, the publisher’s debut on the PS5 and Xbox Series X and the latest title in one of its longest-running franchises. The series originally started as Colin McRae Rally in 1998, and while it’s shifted from a focus on simulation-style gameplay into a more arcade-style experience over the years, the Dirt games remain one of the crown jewels of the publisher’s roster.
Codemasters’ focus has been almost exclusively on racing titles in recent years, but the company has also done a small number of games outside its usual area of expertise like the Overlord series, a quirky set of action RPG/RTS games. Between the 1980s and the mid-2000s, it also published lesser-known but acclaimed titles like Second Sight, Operation Flashpoint, and the Dizzy series.