Sep 29

Game Publishers Buy Up Development Studios

Posted by jgaudiosi :: Industry Trends

GhostriderAs the videogame industry continues to grow, more consolidation is taking place. Walt Disney's Buena Vista Games has acquired its first European studio with Cimax Racing in the United Kingdom. The independent studio is known for making best-selling racing games like Moto GP for THQ and ATV Offroad Fury for Sony. This acquisition is the third internal studio for the company, following purchases of Vancouver's Propaganda Games and Salt Lake City's Avalanche Software.

"The acquisition of Climax Racing aligns perfectly with our strategic and geographic goals by allowing us to both reach into new genres and new markets for creative talent," said Graham Hopper, senior vice president and general manager of Buena Vista Games.

Climax still has an independent studio in Los Angeles, which is focusing on Hollywood games like 2K Games' upcoming 2007 "Ghost Rider," which is a seqel to the new Nicolas Cage film.

Vivendi Games has purchased two development studios, Secret Lair Studios, located in Issaquah, Wash., and Studio Ch'in in Shanghai, China.  The purchase of Studio Ch'in is subject to the approval of the Government of the People's Republic of China under Chinese Law, and Vivendi Games is in the process of obtaining such required approval. 

The acquisition positions Vivendi Games' Sierra Online division as a key publisher of Xbox Live Arcade titles.  Sierra Online already has numerous Xbox Live Arcade titles in development, including "Assault Heroes," and "Carcassonne," based on the popular tile-based board game.  Xbox Live Arcade is a fast growing phenomenon in console gaming.  Both acquired studios also contribute extensive development experience on other consoles and platforms, specializing in mid-session and PC online titles. 

"Working together, our teams in Los Angeles, Seattle and Shanghai, now form a significant internal development organization focused on creating cutting edge online entertainment with global appeal," said Ed Zobrist, president, Sierra Online. "We're excited about the vast creative opportunities presented by platforms like Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade and intend to be a premiere publisher for the popular online service as well as the PC online space."

"I firmly believe in this business that great games come from great people.  In joining the Sierra Online team, we become part of a tremendous group of people centered on quality game development," said Jason Robar, head of studios for Sierra Online Seattle and Shanghai.  "It's an exciting time in the industry with the ongoing success of Xbox Live Arcade and the anticipation of Windows Vista which Microsoft has designed from the ground up for gaming.  The combination of our current business relationships and development with Sierra Online's existing initiatives sets the highest standard for Xbox Live Arcade, mid-session and PC online titles."

"Sierra Online is an incredible partner for Xbox Live Arcade, incorporating a wealth of creativity and originality into its games," said Greg Canessa, GM, Xbox Live Arcade.  "Over the next year, we're looking forward to adding exceptional games from Sierra Online to the diverse library of Xbox Live Arcade titles already being played by Xbox 360 owners around the world."


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