EA buys BioWare!

We're still in shock and don't know quite what to say...

From out of nowhere, EA has only gone and snatched two studios from Elevation Partners in a deal worth up to $860 million.

The studios in question? BioWare and Pandemic, which between them are said to have ten games in the pipeline.

"These are two of the most respected studios in the industry and I'm glad to be working with them again," said John Riccitiello, EA CEO. "They'll make a strong contribution to our strategic growth initiatives on quality, online gaming and developing new intellectual properties. We also expect this will drive long-term value for our shareholders."

Under the terms of the deal, which MSNBC is reporting, EA will pay VG stockholders up to $620 million in cash and issue as much as $155 million in equity to some of the company's employees.

Microsoft will publish Mass Effect next month as planned, and the studio is in the early stages of developing a multiplayer online game, EA said. Pandemic is on Mercenaries 2: World in Flames and Saboteur.

BioWare CEO Ray Muzyka added, "[The acquisition] will enable us to further the careers of the passionate, creative and hard working teams at BioWare Edmonton and BioWare Austin."

Whether the final two Mass Effect titles in the trilogy will stay 360 exclusive remains to be seen. But EA isn't best known for platform exclusives...

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