But things are about to change, and more so than at any other point in its history. EA’s bid for Take Two (and more importantly Rockstar, its jewel in the crown) has become hostile – and Riccitiello’s not the kind of guy to back down.
Trying to stop a powerhouse like EA doing as it wishes, as Ubisoft has discovered in the past, is like attempting to halt a steamroller with nothing but a disapproving frown.
But what then for Rockstar’s notoriously controversial output? There’s no doubt that a title like Manhunt 2 jars with what EA represents.
When Riccitiello’s move for Take Two is complete, he is faced with some tough decisions and perhaps a fight to keep hold of the very talent he intends to pay possibly over the odds for.
He has already stated – very publicly – that EA’s primary interest is in Rockstar and its hugely talented staff. But the team in question could well baulk at the idea of working for a company like EA.
Before, Rockstar was the big fish in Take Two’s troubled pond. It has, in many respects, been the driving force behind Take Two for years – some less kind observers might say its saving grace.
Indeed, we all got a small glimpse of the power it holds at boardroom level when GTA IV was delayed last year. Forget sales targets and financial quarters – Rockstar North simply wanted to create the best game it could, regardless of the wider company’s interests. It is a culture that may not sit well with EA’s more regimented release schedule.
“I believe the company is fully justified in calling themselves Rockstar, because that’s what they are in this industry,” said Riccitiello last week. Clearly EA is trying to buy into that rock star spirit. But can it really be bought and remain intact?