Electronic Arts unlikely to acquire Harmonix

With Viacom’s recent announcement that they plan to sell off music game pioneers Harmonix, the question of who might pick up the studio is still open to wide speculation. One of the most feasible theories has been that Electronic Arts could just go ahead and swallow the Rock Band machine whole on the basis of their existing distribution deal for the game. 

It seems that John Riccitiello is just too much of a cheapskate, however. In an interview with Bloomberg, EA’s CEO explains that he believes many potential acquisitions for the company are overvalued, saying, “There are probably 25 companies on our radar that would make sense for us at somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of the asking price.” I suppose he’s probably being a good steward of the company’s money by centering their acquisition strategy around diversification with a focus on developing IPs they already own instead of blowing huge wads of cash on big names hoping to cash in, but that’s just me.

As for Harmonix specifically, Riccitiello may not have explicitly stated that a purchase of the studio was out of the question, but he may as well have. “I’m sure some smart investor will buy the business feeling that they can catch a falling knife,” he comments, “but more people have been cut trying to catch falling knives than have benefitted from getting the timing exactly right.”

Sooooo, who’s still left with the kind of cash that Viacom would want for Harmonix? Some entertainment consortium looking to expand their portfolio? Or perhaps Activision? Now there’s a terrifying prospect.

Electronic Arts Chief Riccitiello Hunts Video-Game Bargain Bin for Deals [Bloomberg via CVG]

Conrad Zimmerman