Vivendi Hawking Games Unit

[i]“Vivendi hasn’t stopped trying to sell its video game parts after all. The struggling company is looking to sell its biggest moneymakers - Blizzard and Sierra. Both companies are responsible for creating some of the best selling games of all time. Reuters reports that Vivendi has looked to three different potential buyers so far - Microsoft and Electronic Arts as well as Japanese games giant Sony. The deal is for all of Vivendi Universal Entertainment and not simply the two gaming companies. Vivendi Universal Entertainment also owns assets in television and film as well as theme parks. The proposed deal is for $15 billion. An EA spokesperson said the company wouldn’t discuss the matter “prior to the announcement of an agreement” while spokespersons from the other companies declined comment.”


I really doubt EA would want to swallow an entire movie studio, as well as all the other goodies in Vivendi Entertainment. Not to mention, that would put a rather large debt load on EA’s finances.

Microsoft could do it, and they might to keep it out of Sony’s hands, though they probably don’t need to worry about it too much, because Sony swallowing Vivendi Entertainment and Universal would bring lots of antitrust scrutiny. Sony already owns a pretty damn big piece of the movie and music business already.

The scary thing is that Microsoft could do it and still have $25 billion left in the bank. They wouldn’t have to go into debt at all, or borrow any money.

Remember when MS was flirting with the idea of buying CBS? So it’s not like they haven’t thought of getting into Hollywood before. Though the culture clash would be truly epic. Geeks and nerds lording over the Hollywood movers and shakers.

Wow. mmm. Wow.

MS’s World of Warcraft? Sony’s World of Warcraft? EA’s World of Warcraft?

Anyone else see the problem here?


I wish all the good game companies would team up and buy themselves a publisher that they controlled.

Is there a source for this at all? Where did you find this info?

More rumors from Voodoextreme:

[i]"If insider speculation is to be believed, Microsoft has bought US publisher Vivendi, with an announcement to that effect due soon. Take a deep breath and reflect on the implications of that, if true.

Half-Life 2, Warcraft, Counter-Strike, Crash, Spyro, Lord of the Rings… Vivendi has an enormous portfolio boasting some of the biggest titles on all formats, and it would be an ultra-smart move on Microsoft’s part to snap them up. Such a buyout, of course, would come at a terrifically high price, making the 365 million acquisition of Rare look like peanuts. But if anyone has the necessary funds, it’s Microsoft.

Furthermore, an email from Universal was accidentally sent out to developers last week stating that all work on GBA titles should be suspended. The email was promptly recalled and branded an error, but could it be that this was in some way tied in with this alleged deal?

We contacted Vivendi for comment and a spokesperson told us: “We’ve heard all sorts of rumours over the past months - Activision, EA and many more. They’d all like to get their hands on Blizzard. I guess Microsoft are one of the few companies that has enough money.”

If this is true as various sectors of the press believe then we should be seeing an official announcement on Friday. So Microsoft now has its hands in Valve, Blizzard and others if this is true… Dark times or more security for developers considering Vivendi’s habit of dropping underperforming studios?"


If this is true, it could be big news. If. Vivendi has had serious problems (both with their finances and apparently with internal management), so it makes sense that they’d want to keep such a development under wraps, if it is, in fact, happening. As far as I know, Vivendi (which consists of both a water-treatment company and a mostly sold-off media arm that includes VU Games) has been bleeding cash for about 2 years now, and the company’s ownership of VU Games makes them exciting and “sexy” to European investors, so getting rid of the property could have some pretty serious consequences for the parent company later down the line.

If you remember, rumors were flying around last year about Microsoft purchasing Rare from Nintendo (which they did), though, there were also rumors about Microsoft buying Sega, which they didn’t (yet). I don’t know what Microsoft’s current strategy toward the game market is, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say their aggressive buyout kick (during which they acquired Bungie, Ensemble, and finally Rare from 2001-2002) is cooling out. They lost a great deal of money with the Xbox, lost a great deal of money with their recent PC games (Asheron’s Call 2, Impossible Creatures, and the writing is on the wall for Freelancer), so if I had to speculate, I’d imagine that Microsoft probably wouldn’t be eager to start throwing around even more money into the game market when their current ventures haven’t yet proven to be too profitable.

Of course, that’s just my opinion, and I could be wrong, because nothing has been confirmed yet. Of course, if someone does get some official word, I’d be interested in hearing it.

valso rumors about Microsoft buying Sega, which they didn’t (yet).

The rumors were true, insofar as this was attempted, but the deal never went through.

I dont see how EA could acquire a $15billion dollar property. Sony, and even more likely M$, yeah. But EA?

Anyway. Interesting rumor to say the least.


What do you mean by losing money on Freelancer? It isn’t even out yet. It looks like a great game to me. Of course, it might be too hardcore, despite it’s attempts to mainstream itself. Maybe that’s what you meant?

No, I mean that Freelancer is a space sim, and if the past few years are any indication, space sims just don’t sell. Freelancer has been in the pipe for many years, and god only knows how much money was spent producing it. I’m not saying Freelancer will be a bad game, I actually agree that it looks great. But Freespace 2 and IWar 2 also looked great, and look how they ended out.

“Diablo is a role-playing games, and if the past few years are any indication, role-playing games just don’t sell.” - Someone in 1996.

The games unit, which is comprised of Sierra, Blizzard and VU Games, is reportedly being shopped for between $1.5 and $2.5 billion euros, and EA could afford that (obviously MS and Sony beat them out if it turns into a bidding war).

The entire Vivendi entertainment division, which includes the above and Universal Studios, USA Network, SciFi Channel and some theme parks, had an offer of $15 billion + take-over of $5 billion in debt, which was turned down by Vivendi.

However, M. Davis, the man who made the offer, is getting ready to make a second bid. The trouble is that Barry Diller runs the entertainment division and has something of stranglehold on any sale, as Vivendi has to pay his tax liabilities from the VU buyout of USA/SciFi if Vivendi sells the unit.

Vivendi recently announced that they had lowered their debt load from $35 billion euros to $13 billion, which is quite a feat to perform in less than a year. They aren’t out of the woods yet, but they can see the road.

“Diablo is a role-playing games, and if the past few years are any indication, role-playing games just don’t sell.” - Someone in 1996.[/quote]

This doesn’t really stand as a counterargument; Diablo isn’t actually a RPG, and it wasn’t just a huge success; it was also a game that hasn’t really spawned a huge series of imitators (not nearly as much as Elite/Wing Commander did, anyway).

Anyway, Diablo isn’t a RPG, while Freelancer is very much a space sim. If you want to talk about reviving the RPG genre in the 90’s, Baldur’s Gate in '98 would have been a better example. Diablo was, however, a breakthrough game, and I don’t see Freelancer having that same impact. I hope I’m wrong, I hope Freelancer triggers some kind of mystical renaissance for space sims, but that probably isn’t going to happen. UNDERSTAND THIS: I’m not criticizing Freelancer or calling it a “bad” game in any way, shape, or form (I actually think it looks quite good); what I am saying is that it won’t be some kind of messianic smash hit that singlehandedly revives space sims.

The games unit, which is comprised of Sierra, Blizzard and VU Games, is reportedly being shopped for between $1.5 and $2.5 billion euros, and EA could afford that (obviously MS and Sony beat them out if it turns into a bidding war).[/quote]

While this is true, it may also be worth noting that VUGames is both a parent company and a distributor–both Interplay and Mythic (the Dark Age of Camelot people) have been using their services for some time, so Blizzard, Sierra, and Universal might not be the only game studios affected by a possible sale. It’s a big deal, so if I were an insider who was actually involved in the trade, I’d be sure to keep the details as far from the public eye as possible.

If Microsoft does buy out the games deparments do you tihnk they will exclusive StarCraft Ghost and any future StarCraft/WarCraft tittles to X-box?

Starcraft Ghost being exclusive to Xbox would be huge, IMO, and is a likely possibility of the deal… if there is a deal. I always thought Blizzard and Xbox were a natural combination, given their PC background and blockbuster dev status.

I doubt the RTSes would ever be console exclusive since there’s been all of, oh, five RTS games released for consoles since time began. And I think four of those were crappy ports of PC games.

Yeah, I think Ghost would be a likely exclusive, unless Blizzard already has signed unbreakable contracts with Sony and Nintendo. Making Warcraft and Starcraft RTS games exclusive to the Xbox would be throwing away money, though. But they can certainly develop lots of games based in those universes, but in different genres, for the Xbox. Like Starcraft: Ghost. Or a Warcraft RPG or Dungeon hack or a Worlds of Warcraft version for Xbox Live. Or a 3D Diablo. Lots of options for the IP without throwing away the RTS money from the PC side.

Well, Ghost was already being made as a console-only game, not just for Xbox but for PS2 and GC. But yeah, if MS buys em, they’ll halt development on the PS2 and GC development ASAP. What’s the point of spending up to $2 billion dollars to buy a company if you’re not going to take advantage of it?

I don’t see Microsoft killing Blizzard’s PC line. Blizzard is king of the PC hill. They make tons of money making PC games. Microsoft publishes PC games. Microsoft would be crazy killing that golden goose.

Blizzard PC games would be to the games division like Windows and Office are to Microsoft to a whole… they make so much money they fund other ventures, like Xbox games and other PC games.

Sure, they would want Ghost on Xbox, but they would also want to be able to publish a Starcraft 2 on the PC. That’s a guaranteed blockbuster money maker right off the bat.

And it’s not just that MS would make money off the PC games themselves, they make money - a big percentage of their money - from selling the OS that runs the overwhelming percentage of computer games. There are plenty of gamers that subscribe to the view of: “My (Mac/Linux/Amiga/NeXT/ENIAC) is better than Windoze for everything else, I only run XP to play games!” That MS is unaware of the value of PC games to their core business is inconceivable.