The big picture: Despite having licensed its characters to numerous game developers for decades, Disney has never enjoyed a position in that market anywhere near its dominance in film and TV. A recent report suggests some at the company want to change this, but nothing currently indicates Disney is pivoting away from its ongoing agreements with third parties.
Bloomberg reports that Disney CEO Bob Iger's deputies are trying to convince him to turn the company into a major game publisher, perhaps by acquiring EA or a similarly-sized gaming company. Iger hasn't indicated any commitment to the issue so far.
Disney's major acquisitions of companies like Marvel and Lucasfilm have proven successful. Aside from movies that make billions of dollars, the catalogs from those companies and 21st Century Fox have given Disney a strong position in the streaming wars.
So, it isn't surprising that executives believe they can establish a similar beachhead in the gaming market, and its close licensing partnership with Disney makes EA a prime candidate for a video game acquisition. Such a buyout would tremendously impact its position in the sector.
The publisher has released multiple blockbuster Star Wars titles in recent years, including this year's Jedi: Survivor. The game's developer, Respawn Entertainment, has two more Star Wars titles in development – a first-person shooter and a strategy game.
Furthermore, other EA studios have three Marvel-themed games in the works. Star Wars: Squadrons developer EA Motive is making an Iron Man title with the senior producer of Square Enix and Eidos Montreal's well-received Guardians of the Galaxy game. The second is a Black Panther game, with Middle-earth: Shadow of War veteran Keven Stephens heading production. The third Marvel project remains unannounced.
Another reason an EA acquisition isn't entirely out of the question is that the $35 billion company was reportedly shopping for a buyer last year. Rumors suggested EA entered talks with tech and media giants like Disney, Amazon, and Apple and nearly merged with NBCUniversal. It's unclear how receptive it would be to a Disney acquisition today.
However, EA is far from the only publisher releasing major titles using Disney properties. Sony and Insomniac will release their third Spider-Man title this month, and Insomniac is developing a Wolverine game. Additionally, Microsoft-owned MachineGames is preparing an Indiana Jones title with Lucasfilm Games, and Ubisoft recently unveiled its open-world Star Wars Outlaws.