EA Sports Acquires Super Mega Baseball Maker Metalhead Software

EA Sports’ latest acquisition is Super Mega Baseball and its creator, Canadian indie studio Metalhead Software.

Electronic Arts announced on Wednesday that it has purchased the British Columbia developer of three acclaimed arcade-style baseball hits, the most recent last May. Super Mega Baseball 3. Terms were not disclosed. The deal is the latest in a six-month series of moves and expansions that have returned EA to the sports it left off for the past decade.

“We have a deliberate growth strategy in place for EA Sports which is to jump into a number of new sports that we haven’t been in for a while and place our bets in certain places,” Cam said. Weber, senior vice president in charge of EA Sports, told Polygon. “One of those things was re-establishing a presence in baseball and looking at our options there.”

Metalhead, founded in 2009 by Scott Drader and Christian Zuger, released super mega baseball on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in late 2014. It was an unexpected critical success, earning it Polygon’s Sports Video Game of the Year, in addition to praise from many other reviewers. Versions followed for Xbox One and Windows PC, as well as two sequels, those of 2018 Super Mega Baseball 2 and last year’s game, both of which were also released for Nintendo Switch.

Weber said EA’s conversation with Drader, Zuger and Metalhead started a year ago, after Super Mega Baseball 3 launched and Weber found himself playing it a lot with his teenage son.

“A few months later, I was like, ‘OK, this is the third game I’ve played for these guys,'” Weber said. “I’ve never met them before; we have just established a connection. We are organizing a meeting for [EA’s] business, find out what they’re doing, and then we just started talking.

“I was interested in what they planned to do in the future, and to see if there was anything we could do together, in any scenario,” Weber said.

In a post on the Super Mega Baseball subreddit, Metalhead Software called Electronic Arts a “perfect partner” to help it take on bigger projects and expand the reach of its games. “Most importantly, EA is a huge fan of our games and shares our vision for future projects,” Metalhead said.

The studio said that an update 7 for Super Mega Baseball 3 is currently in the works, with details to come soon. “There’s a lot more baseball on the horizon with the expansion of the Super Mega Baseball franchise, and maybe more to come!” says the studio. “But we don’t have any specific details to share today.”

Weber understands that fans will immediately see the acquisition as a sign that EA Sports intends to merge Super Mega Baseball’s out-of-the-box gameplay and out-of-the-box fanbase with Major League licenses. League Baseball, and to return in an even bigger publication line, an EA Sports remaining after Baseball MVP 2005.

But Weber pointed to Super Mega Baseball’s arcade style — players and stadiums got a comic strip presentation on all three games — and sense of humor as accolades EA Sports wants to support and preserve. “I think Super Mega Baseball is quite different from MLB The Show, and I think it has its own place in the market,” Weber said.

Under an agreement for Major League Baseball to act as the game’s publisher, the Sony-developed studio MLB The Show 21 – a PlayStation exclusive since the franchise’s debut in 2006 – launched on Xbox Series X and Xbox One in April, and a Nintendo Switch version is possible a bit later. MLB The Show 21 was also available to Xbox Game Pass subscribers on launch day.

Super Mega Baseball 3 continued the stylized presentation of the game’s players, tending more towards realism and away from caricatures. But the gameplay has been praised by fans and critics alike since day one.
Image: Metalhead Software

When asked if Super Mega Baseball could become the basis for various additional baseball titles, especially MLB-licensed ones, Weber replied, “Maybe,” but didn’t offer any specific concept, whether he or Metalhead already had them.

“Obviously we’re completing the acquisition this week,” Weber said. “We’re going to sit down together and plan for the future, and figure out what we can do to grow and grow. I’d like to develop Super Mega Baseball, in depth, and kind of fully realize what the team’s vision for the game is. And then, like I said, we’ll also explore other sports and develop the studio.

“I think in terms of licensing, we’ll be looking at what – for each individual game they’re working on, including Super Mega Baseball – we’ll be looking at what’s the best path to take to achieve the vision,” Weber said.

Bringing in Metalhead — a studio with about 16 employees — isn’t the only way Electronic Arts is getting back into baseball. The publisher last week completed a $2.1 billion acquisition of Glu Mobile, which makes MLB Tap Sports Baseball for iOS and Android.

Weber said an adaptation of Super Mega Baseball for mobile platforms is “not immediately what we’re thinking about, but I think we’re open to anything at this point. […] I wouldn’t say no today; it’s just not part of our short-term plans.

EA bringing Metalhead into its stable of developers is the latest in a six-month string of attention-grabbing titles related to sports publishing. In December, the company struck a last-minute $1.2 billion deal to pick up Codemasters, the makers of the F1 series and other motorsport titles.

Although Codemasters will continue to publish independently of EA Sports, Weber called Formula 1 racing “one of the top five sports, globally”, for its growth, especially among fans engaged in video games. “F1 is the one we’ve been watching for a few years, because of the sport’s trajectory globally,” Weber said.

Then, in February, EA Sports announced it would return to publishing a college football game, a space it left under a cloud eight years ago as former college players sued. in court to obtain the rights to use and profit from their likenesses in commercial works such as video games. . Development is ongoing but early, with EA giving no timeframe for a release beyond saying it won’t happen this year and expected changes to NCAA policies will pave the way for the game to return in the future.

Finally, last month, EA announced that it had signed a new deal with Augusta National Golf Club, bringing both its famed golf course and the Masters Tournament back to a video game for the first time since 2013. EA Sports PGA Tour will be the only golf video game with all four major professional golf tournaments and their courses allowed to appear.

“We always did very well with our golf franchise when we were in the early years of [new] console cycles,” Weber explained. EA’s latest golf game, Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour, launched in the spring of 2015, just over a year after the debut of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. “That’s when we’ve always had our most successful side of the business, in terms of unit sales and engagement over time.”

Update: This post has been updated with comment from Metalhead Software.