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EA's Gordon Talks Renderware Failure, Ubisoft Acquisition

EA's Gordon Talks Renderware Failure, Ubisoft Acquisition

May 23, 2007 | By Staff

May 23, 2007 | By Staff
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As part of an in-depth feature interview appearing on Gamasutra today, EA CCO Bing Gordon has discussed how the company "underestimated Epic again" regarding Unreal Engine, also suggesting of Ubisoft takeover chatter: "I think everybody is for sale".

Key elements of the interview deal with the company's acquisition in 2004 of formerly dominant game engine firm Renderware, alongside its owner and Burnout creator Criterion, and subsequent engine plans for Electronic Arts.

The next generation version of Renderware was at one time planned to be the basis for much of EA's next-gen tech infrastructure, with EA Los Angeles' Neil Young discussing the engine at Tokyo Game Show in 2005, mentioning that the version of Renderware being used was what's internally called Renderware 4.5 - essentially, Renderware 4 plus an unspecified EA code-base.

However, the company quietly announced an Unreal Engine 3 license in August 2006, in a deal subsequently revealed to include the Medal Of Honor game that was using Renderware, and when asked: "What made you guys take up the Unreal Engine? What happened with Renderware?", Gordon explained:

"Renderware didn't get the next-gen parts that we needed. We actually underestimated Epic early on. They told us, 'We're going to do this, this, and this,' and we thought, 'Eh, it's going to be kind of hard.' We also overestimated our team, then we looked up three months, six months, and nine months later and said, 'Whoops, we underestimated Epic. Again. And overestimated our own team.' We had a couple of teams that were waiting on Renderware. We probably stuck with it too long."

In addition, Gordon discussed the possibility of an EA takeover of Ubisoft looming ever since the firm purchased 20% of the company in late 2004, commenting: "I think everybody is for sale. I think in general, successful intellectual properties in all media are undervalued, especially in our media."

He continued: "There's been a lot of acquisitions, but the thing about acquisitions is that the only time it works is if you've got an intellectual property that can succeed without the people, or if the people have a ten-year career path that they're interested in at EA."

Further information on Spore's big gamble, EA's attitude to the Dreamcast, and even Gordon's own World Of Warcraft passion is available at the full Gamasutra interview on the subject.


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