Codemasters is one of the most well-known studios in the industry among fans of racing games. Having produced titles in the genre for about three decades, its releases are often met with a lot of fanfare from both critics and consumers alike. Yet after spending so much time running on its own, it willingly put itself up on auction this year for acquisition. And just recently, the company destined to acquire it became Electronic Arts. With EA now formally buying out Codemasters, the publishing giant wasted no time in announcing its plans to organize a consistent stream of new racing releases. Yearly — to be exact.
These plans were announced during EA’s Q3 financial results meeting, where EA CEO Andrew Wilson highlighted what the future holds for EA with Codemasters’ treasure trove of franchises.
In fact, EA’s execs aren’t exactly shy about their intentions of having Codemasters’ talent and properties under their domain. In that same earnings call, EA COO Blake Jorgensen boasted about how Codemasters’ franchises will now benefit from “a large publishing organization and the marketing muscle we are able to deliver.” In a line reminiscent of the big-business corporate exec movie trope, Jorgensen expressed EA’s passion for dominance in the genre by saying: “So we know it is not a FIFA-sized business, but we know there is an incredible opportunity to own essentially all of the driving business there is.”
Straight from the horse’s mouth — EA wants to be the center of the racing videogame scene. And this purchase most certainly gives it rights to that claim.
Now that EA owns Codemasters, that means it also owns major racing IP such as the DiRT series, GRID series, and F1 (which has yearly releases already). Back in 2019, Codemasters bought a similarly prestigious racing studio, Slightly Mad. That UK studio has made a name for itself with the simulation-based Project CARS franchise, which is already in the process of getting its fourth-entry in the near future. The hope from fans is that it returns to the series’ roots of simulation rather than the more arcade-heavy approach the third entry took.
Interestingly enough, EA did contract Slightly Mad’s talents a few years ago to produce the short-lived Shift racing simulator series. It was originally a branded spin-off under EA’s own Need for Speed label. However, the second entry dropped the NFS titling for the more simple title of Shift 2: Unleashed. As it turns out, now that Slightly Mad falls under the wing of Codemasters, which itself now falls under the wings of EA, Slightly Mad and EA’s partnership has basically come full-circle.
EA agreed to pay a staggering $1.2 billion USD to acquire Codemasters just a few months ago. Thus, it’s no wonder why the company is already eager to put its fresh IP to use. Codemasters launched DiRT 5 on last-gen and next-gen consoles along with PC back in November 2020, so that should continue to sell onward.
Meanwhile, the next F1 game is just months away. That’s a franchise EA is particularly interested in. CEO Andrew Wilson stated that “F1 plus live service plus our marketing muscle is a profound opportunity.”
One crowded garage
With EA now controlling Codemasters’ IP, there really isn’t much in the way in terms of direct competition.
Microsoft would be the next biggest contender with its Forza Motorsport franchise gearing up for a next-gen entry and the continued support of the evergreen Forza Horizon 4. However, that battle will only be seen on PC and Xbox. Sony has Gran Turismo, which is also getting a new-entry soon, but that’s only on PS5.
So, by and large, EA does now have the biggest collection of AAA racing labels under its belt, leaving platform-exclusives as the only other fish in this competitive ocean.
(Quotes from IGN).