EA tables bid to take over Digital Illusions

Top publisher rolls for DICE as Battlefield creators become latest acquisition target.

Battlefield developer Digital Illusions CE looks set to become a subsidiary of Electronic Arts, after the leading publisher tendered an offer for all of the outstanding shares in the Swedish company this morning.

EA currently owns around 19 per cent of DICE, which it bought in 2003 when the companies went into a 15-year distribution agreement, and is the publisher - and license holder - of the developer's Battlefield series.

The DICE board of directors has recommended to shareholders that they should accept the offer from EA, arguing that being a part of Electronic Arts will make the transition to next-generation development much faster.

"The game industry is entering a very challenging period of technology transition," DICE chairman Torsten Larsson told shareholders in a statement today. "Making DICE a full partner with EA will strengthen DICE's ability to navigate the transition to the next generation of technology."

DICE also develops the critically acclaimed Rallisport Challenge titles, but it's certainly best-known for the Battlefield franchise, which has sold around four million units to date in its various incarnations.

However, the franchise's planned move to consoles was delayed recently when EA insisted on delaying console title Battlefield: Modern Combat by a year in order to add a singleplayer component to the game.

Commenting on the potential buyout this morning, EA European Studios general manager Rory Armes described it as "an opportunity to accelerate the growth of a great studio team," adding that "in the next five years, we hope to introduce new franchises and double the number of people working at this studio."

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