What Activision Buying Take Two Might Mean for 2K Sports

Posted February 12th, 2011 at 7:45 am

Over the last few years Take Two has been an acquisition target for multiple companies most notably Electronic Arts. Now comes a rumor that the other giant in the gaming world Activision may be eyeing a takeover. The info comes from MCV which as an outlet has produced a number of rumors regarding talks around Take Two for several years now that have not panned out so it isn’t something worth getting too riled up by yet.

Keeping that in mind one starts to wonder how Activision would view 2K Sports (when Rockstar and Irrational are the real prizes in an acquisition). With the exception of the NBA, 2K Sports has failed to produce over the years and been a drag on the company’s bottom line leading to constant rumblings of their desire to dump the division if the opportunity arose. With the success of NBA 2K11 that has stemmed the tide in that regard and made the sports department more attractive as a whole. What would Activision do with 2K Sports however?

On Wednesday Activision announced they were ceasing development on Guitar Hero, DJ Hero, and Tony Hawk games as well as canceling the free-roaming True Crime: Tokyo while cutting their workforce by about 500 people. They plan to add a studio to be known as ‘Beachhead’ that will work solely on a digital platform for the Call of Duty franchise. Earlier this year Activision also moved to close well-regard studio Bizarre Creations which was responsible for series such as Project Gotham Racing, Geometry Wars, and last year’s Blur.

NBA 2K would certainly seem to be safe, the franchise has exploded over the last three years and become a sales juggernaut. It would be set up to expand if anything. Activision’s track record though and recent actions suggest they would look to scrap the smaller franchises. They have been putting emphasis on producing less titles with those being of the high profile variety. They are doing so by expanding Call of Duty even further, capitalizing on brand licenses such as Transformers and Spider-Man, and maintaining the highly successful Blizzard division which includes World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft.

Titles such as Top Spin, NHL 2K (if still around), and MLB 2K would seem in danger to be shut down completely. Facing the direct competition in the marketplace, the costs involved in licensing leagues or individual players, and the lack of break-out potential means they fall in line with the types of games they’ve been canceling as of late.

What would probably be most of interest to gamers is what an acquisition would do for the possibility of obtaining the NFL license. While they certainly would have the funds to make a run at it Activision would likely not be interested in spending big on an exclusive license as the venture becomes much less lucrative. Where they could become a player is if the NFL were to open up the license at a lower entry point where multiple companies could make that investment in building an NFL franchise. Regardless things would certainly get interesting as there would be a real challenger to EA Sports if they decided to be aggressive.

At this point it is difficult to judge what Activision would do with 2K Sports (and the rumor may never pan out) but by looking at their fiscal track record and the current state of the division it would probably be a good thing for NBA 2K and the potential of an NFL game but not bode well for the other titles in the line. The situation is worth monitoring regardless as Take Two seems to be headed towards an inevitable acquisition the question is just by whom and when.