Activision Acquires Bond Video Game License (Updated)

Activision today announced that it has acquired rights to develop and publish video games based on the James Bond license through 2014. The announcement came as something of a surprise, considering Electronic Arts has been publishing Bond titles since 1999, and in 2003 renewed its exclusive license with MGM until 2009. That parnership resulted in the well received Everything or Nothing (PS2, Xbox, GCN), as well as others such as the less acclaimed Rogue Agent (PS2, Xbox, GCN, DS) and From Russia With Love (PS2, Xbox, GCN, PSP). As with EA before it, Activision's new agreement allows the company to produce games for all current and next-generation platforms, including home consoles, PC, and handhelds.

When contacted about the specific details of the agreement, Activision informed Shacknews that the Bond rights will not become exclusive to the publisher until September 2007. Presumably, until that point, EA will still be able to release its own Bond games. However, based on comments made by an EA representative speaking to Shacknews, the company may not want to. Apparently, EA simply opted out of the exclusivity agreement based on a desire to move away from licensed properties:

EA had an agreement that was set to expire in 2009. We decided to conclude our agreement with [licensors] MGM and EON. It was a good relationship, and we made a lot of great games over the years. Movie games will always be a part of our portfolio, but EA is moving away from licensed properties and committing our studios more towards internal IP. The resources and creative control afforded by fully owned properties allow us to deliver the kinds of game experiences our customers want.

EA is something of a powerhouse in the movie license realm, also holding the video game rights to successful properties such as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. However, much recent rhetoric out of the company has suggested that it is hoping to move away from that direction in favor of fully-owned IP. Conversely, competitors such as Activision have been moving in the opposite direction. Activision has seen great success with licensed properties lately, including various Marvel and DreamWorks licenses among others.

UPDATE: MGM returned Shacknews' request for comments, going into a bit more detail as far as the reason for the license change. With EA's previously noted change in focus away from licensed properties, MGM put the Bond property on the market for a select group of major publishers and allowing Activision to pick up the rights. It is unlikely that any new Bond games will surface before Activision's exclusivity begins in 2007. This, combined with what an MGM representative described as more of a focus on narrative in the upcoming Bond film Casino Royale, means that we will not be seeing a new Bond video game until the film following Casino.