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E3 06: Activision acquires James Bond license

[UPDATE] Number-two publisher takes over spy-film-inspired game license after archrival Electronic Arts ends agreement; now holds PC, handheld, and console rights until 2014.

Since the late 1990s, Electronic Arts has held the license to publish games based on the James Bond film franchise. The results have been mixed on the current generation of consoles. One effort, 2004's James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, garnered high praise and sold more than 1.3 million units in the US, according to the NPD group. However, EA's four other Bond games--James Bond 007 in Agent Under Fire (2002), James Bond 007: NightFire (2003), GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (2004), and From Russia With Love (2005)--have seen middling sales and reviews.

In 2003, Electronic Arts announced a deal with film distributor MGM to make James Bond-based games until 2009. The following year, MGM was bought by Sony, which now co-owns the James Bond license with the production company EON.

Now, three years later, EA no longer holds the once-coveted James Bond license. Today, Activision shocked the game industry by announcing that it had struck a deal with MGM and EON to publish James Bond games through 2014. "The James Bond franchise creates tremendous global expansion opportunities for Activision as it is one of the few video game licenses that appeals equally to domestic and international consumers," said Mike Griffith, president and CEO of Activision Publishing.

The deal is extensive and gives Activision "worldwide rights to create video games for all current- and next-generation consoles, PC and handheld platforms" based on the James Bond character. It includes both original games set in the Bond universe and games based on new films, such as the forthcoming Casino Royale. Royale will be the first film to feature Daniel Craig (Layer Cake, Munich) in the role of Agent 007.

[UPDATE] But while the deal is potentially lucrative, it does raise a number of questions. Namely, how did Activision get the license to publisher 007 titles? As it turns out, EA decided it didn't want to make them anymore. "EA has decided to conclude our agreement for the James Bond license," a rep told GameSpot. "The current contract was set to expire in 2009. This was a good relationship with MGM and it produced a lot of great games."

According to EA, the end of the 007 deal is part of the publisher's larger strategy to refocus on all-new games. "While movie games will always be in our portfolio, EA is moving away from licensed properties and committing our resources to wholly-owned IP, created in our own studios," said the rep. "Wholly owned properties allow better financial margins and more creative control to develop the type of games that consumers want."

Requests for comment sent to Activision were not returned as of press time.

260 Comments

  • LittleDuck

    Posted May 9, 2008 3:42 am GMT

    Personally goldeneye was a fantastic shooter, but lacked any real spy work, which in a way was great. I still love goldeneye and love it more than any other James Bond game released, probably because they were all made by EA and we all know how good they are (HAHAHA). I am looking forward to this though, the first NEW movie tie in in what 6 years? ish.

  • TQ_NintyNoE

    Posted Jan 1, 2007 6:57 am GMT

    I enjoyed The World is Not Enough, Everything or Nothing, and From Russia wih Love. Those were the coolest Bond games out there, Everything or Nothing totally topped Goldeneye, although that was also brilliant (by Rare). I hope Activision do well too!

  • n2Deepeth

    Posted Dec 4, 2006 11:12 am GMT

    EA has made pretty good Bond games, but none of them ever appealed to me. Spider-Man 2 by Activision, however, features some of the funnest video game mechanics in a game. I kinda wished Activision put more focus on the content in the missions like development of the enemies, rather than make you go through so many repetitive "fight the nameless thugs" and "save the helpless people scenarios."

  • JoePiervincenti

    Posted Nov 30, 2006 3:04 pm GMT

    Me too, I just found this out a few days ago lol... But I figured something was up when there was no game made since From Russia With Love. Maybe Activision will do better with the license, they sure did with Spider-Man!

    Smart move for EA to focus on their own IP's instead of mainly producing licensed games. Licenses rarely lend themselves to great games, and this way EA can have more freedom without the concerns of pleasing movie fans. Not to mention their profit as stated in the article.

  • frankfurter209

    Posted Nov 30, 2006 1:37 pm GMT

    Too bad EA already ran the series into the ground

  • alex_bateman

    Posted Nov 3, 2006 8:47 am GMT

    damn i thought ea still had this damn was i late

  • Crianna

    Posted Aug 11, 2006 2:27 am GMT

    No! EA makes better games than Activision ever will!

  • dennie64

    Posted Jul 21, 2006 4:30 pm GMT

    Oooof, well, I really dunno, I'd rather see the license go to Rare indeed, or maybe Ubisoft But that's just my silly idea

  • colbster

    Posted Jun 1, 2006 4:08 pm GMT

    Activision makes the worst movie games. Look at their history. If Eon was smart they'd give it back to Rare - who is making games for the XBOX 360. Now that's a good idea.

  • Sandman100

    Posted May 8, 2006 3:45 am GMT

    Hopeful there do a better than EA did all those years they had to bring it back, and make it a top franchise again.

  • Alkafrazin

    Posted May 5, 2006 12:28 pm GMT

    Don't forget Wolfenstein.

    I think Activision is perfect for this. They could make a great bond game, and will hopefully make some good multiplatformed bond games that streatch to Revo, DS, and PC.

  • cj007

    Posted May 4, 2006 9:58 pm GMT

    "I can honestly say I like more EA games than Activision games."

    There NEEDS to be some change. They had 4 chances to get it right... and they all were good for about 3 missions max. As far as activision goes... COD 2, Quake, Doom, SOF, Spidey, X-Men, Tony Hawk... I think they have a good shot at making a good bond game and probably much better than other choices.

  • chwcrisco

    Posted May 4, 2006 6:17 pm GMT

    FINALLY, maybe 007 games will be good!

  • Vash67

    Posted May 4, 2006 4:24 pm GMT

    Am I the only person sad about this? I can honestly say I like more EA games than Activision games

  • blueday

    Posted May 4, 2006 4:02 pm GMT

    Yeah,

    EA does suck.

    What's funny is that I've been saying this after they butchered Bon on PS1, right after Golden Eye on N64.

    Finaly, people have caught up with EA dissatisfaction

  • bigbenbeast

    Posted May 4, 2006 4:00 pm GMT

    Thank Goodness! I hated the last few Bond games. Mabie the next few will be a little more like Goldeneye64......

  • Lost2017

    Posted May 4, 2006 3:46 pm GMT

    wow hopefully the bond games wont be just license-cashins and activision please make them better than what ea redwood-shores or eala did and yeah Goldeneye still rules.

  • Bigmag

    Posted May 4, 2006 2:11 pm GMT

    Activision? OH I remember them! They're still a company? Who knew?

  • JLCrogue

    Posted May 4, 2006 1:31 pm GMT

    w00t! EA is teh sUxx0r5!!

    I can't wait to find out about the next James Bond game that Activision will be making this time.

  • cyprus646

    Posted May 4, 2006 1:20 pm GMT

    This make me very happy maybe the bond games could be actually good now. I mean cmon who actually bought the latest bond game ?

  • dragthat

    Posted May 4, 2006 1:06 pm GMT

    Good news ea never made a good bong game.

  • thatguytony

    Posted May 4, 2006 11:46 am GMT

    Great news, EA should have had the license taken from them after they tarnished the Goldeneye legacy with that crap sequel.

  • Bl4ckAdDer

    Posted May 4, 2006 11:45 am GMT

    I hope Activision can revive the James Bond franchise. On-line co-op with up to four friends or system link, with seamless acess if a friend drops by and picks up a controller, and as for down-loadable content (via Micro-purchase points), a retro version of Golden Eye multiplayer up to 16 or 24 players, tweaked gloriously by the Xbox 360 capabilities(Not an N64 port) though in its day, just plain awesome!. Now that is a download worth boasting about. I'd pay 1800 micro-purchase point for a download like this.

    bL4cKaDdEr (Game Lizard)

  • jiggster147

    Posted May 4, 2006 11:42 am GMT

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! James Bond in slideshow/bad framerate format

  • Seraphim_24

    Posted May 4, 2006 11:30 am GMT

    Well let's hope that they do a better job on focusing on the story than EA did. The EA games were fun to play, but had pretty pointless stories.

  • blackhawk887

    Posted May 4, 2006 11:14 am GMT

    this is a big one!
    from the makers of excellent COD2 and such. finally, bond may be worth playing again...since most people really, ultimately, stopped after goldeneye.

  • hells_zargon

    Posted May 4, 2006 10:29 am GMT

    Great! Maybe now they won't crap over the license like EA did...

  • Fallout_red

    Posted May 4, 2006 10:16 am GMT

    Great, maybe they produce a better 007 game.

  • sabru8

    Posted May 4, 2006 10:08 am GMT

    maybe they can make a better game and save this series.

  • buckybuckster

    Posted May 4, 2006 9:40 am GMT

    EA loses a licence??? I'm impressed Activision..

  • LilDews

    Posted May 4, 2006 9:24 am GMT

    It's good that Activision has the Bond series now hope that the games will be better not worse.

  • hitomi69

    Posted May 4, 2006 8:59 am GMT

    yeah, i think ea ruined James Bond after Goldeneye came out, I admit Everything or nothing was great, but all the other ones didn't live up to the name

  • Hall0606

    Posted May 4, 2006 7:32 am GMT

    I pretty much don't care. There hasn't been a decent james bond since goldeneye on the N64. Which still beats all the james bond games.

  • ROCKINGFOOL

    Posted May 4, 2006 3:20 am GMT

    iam gona dream somthing better this time

  • mark_unix

    Posted May 4, 2006 3:06 am GMT

    it now is Sony film distributor of MGM.

  • i_r_wierd

    Posted May 4, 2006 2:58 am GMT

    Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

  • Louis_Armstrong

    Posted May 4, 2006 2:48 am GMT

    Well, I see two positive things here. First EA finally accepted that its games of James Bond suck. And second they will finally try to be creative.

  • DrMatta

    Posted May 4, 2006 1:55 am GMT

    This news made my day.

  • KiLLer_ba

    Posted May 3, 2006 11:58 pm GMT

    Let's see if they do a better job then EA.

  • MSE369

    Posted May 3, 2006 11:20 pm GMT

    hop Activision makes better James Bond games...the franchise needs it

  • shaddix55

    Posted May 3, 2006 10:40 pm GMT

    WOOT ACTIVISION FTW...DO I SEE THE NEXT GREAT 007 GAME COMING OUT

  • neoand12

    Posted May 3, 2006 10:19 pm GMT

    yay GoldenEye: Rogue Agent 2

  • nore105

    Posted May 3, 2006 10:01 pm GMT

    Fine by me. Im tired of EA making lame Bond games. Why cant anyone make another great Bond game like Goldeneye.

  • gdogg4210

    Posted May 3, 2006 9:23 pm GMT

    activision, i would prefer ubisoft making my Bond, but then again better than EA

  • Jordan Bisasky

    Posted May 3, 2006 9:12 pm GMT

    EA's taken too many losses from the expensive licenses they have. The same thing that's crumbled Vivendi and Atari.

    EA really just needs to release Madden and Sims PC games and they'd be in good shape financially.

  • troakun

    Posted May 3, 2006 9:11 pm GMT

    Activision really isn't much better than EA IMO, oh well I'll hope for the best.

  • maximo1

    Posted May 3, 2006 8:55 pm GMT

    Fantastic. They might be good!

  • A7Xfan

    Posted May 3, 2006 8:32 pm GMT

    EA being creative!! I like that, Black and Burnout are all they had to this point, and arguably MVP but that series is dormant for a while. I'd love to see new properties without a doubt.

  • slow-pc

    Posted May 3, 2006 7:43 pm GMT

    Heh ... EA wants to make totally in house games... so that they can make all the money for themselves.

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