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Activision Looking to Sign Rockstars?

The offer came right at the heels of Activision’s investor conference held earlier today, immediately following Kotick’s comment to Goldman Sach’s Mark Wienkes that he was unable to talk about the Houser brothers at that time.

"We [Activision] really embrace the individual studio model," Kotick said. "We know how to take studios and talented teams and appropriately incentivize them. We’ve definitely become the destination location for independently minded entrepreneurial talent."

Sam and Dan Houser founded Rockstar Games back in 1998 along with Terry Donovan, Jamie King and Gary Foreman. Heavily recognized by its blockbuster Grand Theft Auto franchise, the company is also responsible for other well-known franchises such as Midnight Club, Manhunt, Max Payne and Bully. Currently there are nine Rockstar studios in operation including Rockstar Japan, Rockstar London, Rockstar Toronto, and Rockstar North.

Recently Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter forecasted that Take-Two would have a hard time keeping the brothers once their contract ended. Although the Housers are not directly involved with game code, Pachter sees them as movie directors, the driving force behind the Grand Theft Auto franchise. "We expect a bidding war for the Housers’ services in February 2009, and remain convinced that Take-Two faces two equally unpalatable options: either lose the Housers to another bidder, or pay more to retain them," Pachter told Game Daily.

Pachter also believes that Take Two would have benefited from a merger with Electronic Arts, but "overplayed its hand" during the talks, thus sending the publishing giant searching elsewhere for victims to assimilate. However when the Houser brothers’ contract expires in February 2009, it’s very likely that Electronic Arts will approach them directly with a very profitable deal. If Activision’s Bobby Kotick is sincere about swooning the infamous brothers, then they’re in for a brutal bidding war with its competitors over the next four months.