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Pandemic, BioWare Plan Public Listing For Super-Developer

Pandemic, BioWare Plan Public Listing For Super-Developer

December 16, 2005 | By Simon Carless

December 16, 2005 | By Simon Carless
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According to an interview in the New York Times, the newly formed 'super-developer' consisting of KOTOR creator BioWare and Destroy All Humans! maker Pandemic has re-confirmed eventual hopes to take the combined company public on the stock exchange, an extremely rare move for a video game developer.

The company, currently named VG Holdings, was formed when private equity firm Elevation Partners bought majority stakes in developer BioWare Corp. and Pandemic Studios in early November, and ex-Electronic Arts president John Riccitiello, who masterminded the deal, is the CEO of the company.

Elevation has likened the future operation of the holdings company to the publically NASDAQ-traded Pixar Animation Studios, where the studio creates its products and then the holdings company brokers them to publishers. This is intended to give more financial and creative freedom to the developers. "We look to Pixar as the role model," said Andrew Goldman, CEO of Pandemic. "We wanted to build something bigger where we maintained our independence as game developers."

However, Pixar can rely on staggered merchandise, movie and DVD sales to help bolster its performance in each financial quarter. Game developers such as BioWare/Pandemic, which generally release products less often than publishers, do not often attempt a public offering, because pleasing shareholders while allowing for long development times and sometimes limited royalty returns can be problematic.

The New York Times spoke to Wedbush Morgan Securities game analyst Michael Pachter, who commented of a possible public listing for BioWare/Pandemic: "There's not an appetite to segment the different links in the value chain.. the best evidence of that is that we have companies like Viacom, Disney and News Corp."

Nonetheless, several UK developers, including Battalion Wars creator Kuju Entertainment, have previously raised money by floating on the AIM stock market in the UK, showing that it is at least theoretically possible to take a game developer public.


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