Take-Two Agrees $1bn Takeover of Codemasters

The game publishing world has just become a little smaller, as US-based Take-Two has agreed a deal worth almost $1bn to acquire Codemasters.

British outfit Codemasters is well-known in racing game circles. The company started out in the late-1980s producing sports and racing sims, and much of its output in the last decade has been in the sphere of racing game. Among the myriad titles the Codemasters develops or publishes are the F1 series, DIRT and DIRT Rally, and Grid.

As a publisher, Codemasters was in the news this time last year for an acquisition of its own. Slightly Mad Studios, the developer behind the Project CARS series, became part of the brand’s portfolio in an acquisition announced in December 2019. Though SMS produced Project CARS 3 and Fast & Furious Crossroads after this deal, both were Bandai Namco properties.

Take-Two’s automotive output is less expansive, but it is responsible for one of the best-selling car-themed games of all time. Thanks to its ownership of Rockstar Games, Take-Two is the name behind the entire Grand Theft Auto series, including Grand Theft Auto V. That sits second behind only Minecraft on the list of most successful video games ever, with 135m copies sold.

Instead Take-Two, through its 2K Games subsidiary, is perhaps best-known for its annual sports games, previously including NHL, but also PGA Tour and NBA. The NBA 2K series has a thriving esports scene, and esports is part of the rationale for the Codemasters acquisition, given its official status in Formula One and FIA World Rallycross esports series.

Strauss Zelnick, chairman and CEO of Take-Two Interactive, commented:

“We are exceedingly pleased to announce this recommended transaction with the Board of Codemasters. Codemasters has a renowned history of creating some of our industry’s most beloved and commercially successful racing franchises, and we believe that their offerings will be highly complementary to our sports portfolio and enhance further our organization’s long-term growth.

“Moreover, we look forward to welcoming Codemasters’ senior management and development teams into our Take-Two family, and sharing in our vision to deliver the highest quality entertainment experiences and aim to be the most innovative, creative and efficient company in our industry.”

Although Take-Two and Codemasters have agree a deal in principle, with Take-Two picking up all of Codemasters’ shares for $994m (£759m), it is not yet finalized. There’s still plenty of regulatory and legal hoops to jump through, but we’d anticipate it will become official early in 2021.

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