EA Once Turned Houser Away

Illustration for article titled EA Once Turned Houser Away

Many analysts have theorized that Electronic Arts' ongoing bid for Take-Two has quite a lot to do with the talent in the Rockstar stable. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Rockstar's Sam Houser reveals he actually wanted to work for EA in the 1990s - and was rejected for a job.


Now, though, Houser tells the WSJ that in the event of an acquisition by EA, Houser wouldn't mind being "a much smaller fish in a much bigger pond."

The "talent" at Rockstar, as they're called internally, make star-caliber money and might find EA's more traditional pay structure jarring. In 2005, a particularly strong year, Take-Two paid royalties of $84 million, according to company filings. The bulk of funds, say people familiar with the matter, went to Mr. Houser and other Rockstar executives. If EA succeeds in acquiring Take-Two, some analysts believe EA's star developers might demand a bigger share of game proceeds.

Another possible kink: Rockstar's history of autonomy. If EA ends up with Take-Two, Mr. Houser says it's unlikely that he would go so far as to seek EA's approval for game content. Still, he calls Mr. Riccitiello "the real deal" and sees some appeal in an EA alliance, which he says would make Rockstar a "much smaller fish in much bigger pond."

"I'm not someone who has any kind of problem with that," says Mr. Houser, who says EA turned him down for a job in the late 1990s.


Studio Is Prize in Takeover Duel [WSJ Online]

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@Rock You Like An Iracane:

"Okay, can we all agree that this deal should not harm either Rockstar's ability to develop good GTA games and some other stuff....?"

I absolutely cannot agree with that.

EA is out to save costs. It's what they do. They buy companies and either consolidate development resources and/or close them all together. Not entirely a bad way of doing business.

But Rockstar, particularly the team that creates GTA is RIFE with what EA would immediately deem "Non-Value Added Waste".

There is no value-add for having hours and hours of television programming in GTA4. You even have to go out of your way to see it. But it's there.

There is no value-add for Rockstar being one of the only (if not THE only) development house with its own PR and Marketing Team. These guys not only create the marketing that the games themselves get but the trademark brilliant ads for in-game products. There's no value to having a visually historical timeline of a product within GTA (you can see older ads of existing in-game products on sides of buildings, etc). In fact, there's no value to actually SPENDING money on creating all these virtual brands when there's plenty of real-life companies that would actually PAY good money to advertise in GTA. When the execs at EA are faced with either spending a couple million to create fake brands or getting a couple million to put real ones into the game, which do you think is going to win out?

What makes GTA such a great franchise is the huge amount of things you can do that truly are non-value added. Looked at seperately it's easy to decide that resources could be better spent elsewhere, and to dump this feature and that feature and this polish and that polish. But, AS A WHOLE, all those things add up to create arguably one of the most deep, polished, and realistic virtual worlds created to-date.

Simply put, EA is in the business of making money. And that's fine, I like a great number of EA franchises and don't fault them one bit for what they do. But Rockstar is in the business of creating art. While an artist left alone can usually make some pretty good money, as soon as corporate hands get involved the artist and the art loses something, and it's no longer what it once was.