It is likely that Comcast will have no problems getting the support of U.S. lawmakers for its proposed $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable. Why, you ask? Well according to several campaign finance watchdog groups (as reported by Ars Technica), the majority of lawmakers reviewing the merger in hearings have taken campaign contributions from the cable operator directly or indirectly.
Comcast has begun to lay out its arguments to the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department on why its $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable should be approved. In a public interest statement to the FCC released today, Comcast said that the merger will help the company compete against competition in the broadband space like Google and streaming entertainment service such as Netflix. It also claimed that the merger would bring the next-generation of broadband services to millions of households and businesses in America.
eSports brand Electronic Sports League (ESL) announced that parent company Turtle Entertainment GmbH, has entered into an agreement to acquire U.S. -based ESS Agency and that it would open a full production studio and offices in Los Angeles, California. This will mark the seventh international office for the eSports company to date. ESL’s North American operations will be conducted from two U.S. offices, New York and Los Angeles.
Today the United States Senate announced that it plans to hold hearings on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. The hearing is scheduled to take place March 26 before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing is to figure out how the merger might affect market competition, television services, internet pricing and more. No doubt the FCC's Open Internet Order will be talked about during this hearing as well.
The day after Comcast announced its intentions to buy out Time Warner Cable, it mobilized its army of lobbyists and consultants to gauge the atmosphere in Washington D.C concerning the deal. The company has no problem lobbying lawmakers and padding their campaigns with cash to get the job done either.
Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) has come out strongly against a proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, Sen. Franken said that there is already not enough competition in this [we assume he means broadband and cable television] space and this deal goes in the wrong direction. He also said that he is thinks this deal will increase cable prices and decreased the quality of service for Time Warner Cable customers.
Variety is reporting that The Escapist and Warcry parent company Alloy Digital and GameFront parent company Break Media (who also owns Break.com) will soon announce a merger of the two properties under a new 50-50 partnership. The new company will be called Defy Media. Variety claims that Defy Media will focus on creating video content aimed at the 14 - 34 year-old mostly male demographic.
Sega has confirmed that it has taken over the operations of Index Corporation, the Japanese parent company of video game publisher Atlus. Index filed for "Civil Rehabilitation" (the Japanese version of bankruptcy) in June of this year, after suffering heavy debts. Sega has acquired the company and Atlus, and has formed a new subsidiary to take over operations of the company, called Sega Dream Corporation (the name is tentative and will likely change at a later date).
Japanese publisher GungHo Group has acquired Lollipop Chainsaw developer Grasshopper Manufacture. The studio was founded by famed Japanese games developer Suda 51 (Goichi Suda), whose work includes No More Heroes and Killer 7. The company is currently working on Killer is Dead. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
GungHo publishes online and mobile game titles such as the popular MMO Ragnarok Online and Dragon Saga.
Three independent game companies have decided to work together to develop and publish independently developed strategy and war games. The Slitherine Group, Ageod, and Matrix Games have merged. The new super group will continue to develop and publish niche war and strategy games online and through other channels. The Slitherine Group released 30 titles in 2012 for a variety of platforms including PC, Mac, PS3, X360 and tablet platforms. Its games include Battle Academy on iPad, Commander- The Great War, Close Combat: Panthers in the Fog for PC, and many others.
Alloy Digital has completed the acquisition of the popular gaming website, The Escapist from Themis Media. Themis Media was advised on the sale by Redwood Capital and A. Buchholtz & Company, LLC. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The former head of Square has some harsh words for Square Enix after the company posted a quarter of losses, saying publicly that the company seemed to have "no vision for the future." Square Enix recently posted losses of nearly 5.5 billion yen, which in turn sent its stock in a downward dive, making its market cap worth around 124 billion yen.
Suzuki pointed out on Twitter that when Square merged with Enix in 2003, the market cap was 150 billion yen.
Nexon Co., Ltd. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all outstanding common shares of gloops, Inc., a mobile games developer that made its name by developing for DeNA’s Mobage platform in Japan. Nexon will pay 36.5 billion yen in cash.
Epic Games bought a majority stake in Bulletstorm and Painkiller developer People Can Fly in 2007, and as of today they own the company outright. Epic Games announced that it has purchased the Warsaw, Poland-based developer who is currently working on Gears of War Judgment, though for how much they did not disclose. Epic made the decision to buy the company last week.
On a related note, Adrian Chmielarz, Andrzej Poznanski and Michal Kosieradzki have left the company. Epic's Mark Rein says that these departures will not affect the studio's ongoing projects in any way.
The CEO of middleware company BigWorld has resigned from the company. Earlier in the week it was announced that World of Tanks developer Wargaming had bought the middleware provider for $45 million. CEO John De Margheriti, who was one of the founders of the company, will step down at the end of this week. He will be replaced by co-founder Steve Wang, who will report directly to executives at Wargaming. Despite the departure, De Margheriti's statement seems to indicate an amicable exit from BigWorld.
In a shocking turn of events, Wargaming has purchased video game middleware company BigWorld for $45 Million, according to a GamesBeat report. Wargaming is best known for its wildly popular online game World of Tanks. That game has more than 35 million registered users who can play for free or buy virtual goods to enhance their game experience if they so choose.
In a deal financed by Arkenstone Investment, APB Reloaded creator Reloaded Games has merged with its parent company, K2 Network. The new company will operate under the Reloaded Games name.
"This merger represents the beginning of a new era for the company, as we evolve our two core businesses," said Reloaded Games CEO Bjorn Book-Larsson. "We have already signed contracts with independent developers to use our platform and portal for their free-to-play game distribution. We will announce those agreements in the next couple of weeks."
Zynga probably isn't all that embarrassed that OMGPOP's Draw Something beat their top game on Facebook this week - because they have bought OMGPOP. If you can't beat them, I guess you simply buy them out. The godfather of social gaming has made the company an offer it couldn't refuse, with some publications putting the deal in the $200 million ballpark. This deal is not all that surprising given the number of rumors circulating that Zynga executives were out to buy the company and take advantage of the Draw Something success.
AT&T has officially announced that its merger plan with T-Mobile is pushing up daises, but it also takes a few shots at the government for running interference to kill the deal. The $39 billion deal with T-Mobile parent company - Germany-based Deutsche Telekom - fell apart after government regulators from the FCC and the Justice Department took AT&T to task over what the company claimed the deal would accomplish. The Justice Department sued to block the deal in late August, calling it anti-competitive and warning that it could raise consumer prices.
It's a time-out for everyone when it comes to the drama over the AT&T and T-Mobile merger, as AT&T and the Justice Department have agreed that they will delay indefinitely the antitrust trial over the company’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA while the wireless carriers involved determine if it will ever even happen.
AT&T is finding that making the $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA a reality will be an uphill battle. The mobile broadband operator expected the FCC and other U.S. government agencies to green light the merger, but this week FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asked commissioners to send the proposal to a judge for a hearing and further scrutiny. FCC staff came to the conclusion that the proposed merger would "significantly diminish competition" and lead to job losses.
Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to block AT&T Inc.’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of rival T-Mobile USA Inc. In its filing today in Federal Court the government said that the deal would "substantially lessen competition" in the wireless market. The government is seeking a declaration that AT&T’s takeover of T-Mobile (owned by Deutsche Telekom AG, or DTE), would violate U.S. antitrust law.
New York-based law firm Bursor & Fisher, P.A., has launched "Fight The Merger," an initiative to stop the proposed $39 billion merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. The firm, which has in the past sued both AT&T and T-Mobile separately on behalf of their customers, has signed up a few dozen AT&T customers to oppose the unpopular merger.
The web site for the initiative claims that a successful takeover would mean that AT&T and Verizon controlling around 80 percent of the market in the U.S. It further argues that the deal would hinder innovation and limit consumer protection from high prices. Sprint would be the only nationwide competition to AT&T and Verizon, and it has vocally opposed the merger as well.
How do you give money to politicians without actually giving them a big fat check directly? Write a check to a charity they are closely associated with. That is just what AT&T has been doing, and it is getting the attention of the public and media outlets.
AT&T has given a substantial amount of money to charities connected to several lawmakers including Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), who just happens to be the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has direct jurisdiction over the Federal Communications Commission. A charity associated with Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), who just happens to be on the Senate Appropriations Committee. AT&T also gave a generous contribution to a charity associated with Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina), the No. 3 House Democrat. His daughter, Mignon Clyburn also happens to be a member of the Federal Communications Commission.
China-based MMO giant Perfect World has entered into an agreement with Atari S.A. to acquire a hundred percent equity interest in Cryptic Studios, the developers of Champions Online, Star Trek Online, and City of Heroes. The California-based online game developer will cost Perfect World approximately EUR 35.0 million in cash, or $49.8 million. The deal is subject to working capital, adjustments as provided in the agreement, and other customary closing conditions. It is assumed that Perfect World does not gain control of the MMO's that Cryptic currently facilitates such as Champions Online or Star Trek Online.
Conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation has issued a report urging congress to review what it calls 20 "unnecessary and harmful regulations" - three of which have to do with the FCC.
"This regulatory tide must be reversed," Heritage's Dianne Katz said. "Policymakers should not just prevent harmful new regulations, but must repeal costly and unnecessary rules already on the books."
Ars Technica details the three items that Heritage Foundation is putting a bull’s-eye on: net neutrality regulations, media ownership rules, and the FCC's merger review authority.
paidContent is reporting that Yahoo may soon sell off its Yahoo Games unit in an effort to cut costs. HotJobs, Yahoo Small Business and Yahoo Personals are already on the sell list.
Yahoo Games averages 19.2 million unique visits per month and partnerships with PopCap, Gogii Games and Big Fish have helped to create a portfolio of hundreds of games. Yahoo’s fantasy sports business would not be included in the fire sale as it is part of Yahoo Sports.
While Yahoo doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation, paidContent’s sources say two potential buyers have already come calling. Who might be interested in acquiring Yahoo Games? Speculation runs from IGN Entertainment to Best Buy and GameStop but MSN Games and AOL are seen as the best candidates.
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen...