Epic Games today announced that they have acquired Chair Entertainment, developers of the Unreal Engine-powered Xbox Live Arcade game Undertow. The Utah-based development studio will now become a wholly owned subsidiary of Epic Games and will continue to operate under its own name. It will now focus on creating new original game properties which will be powered by the Unreal engine.
“Chair’s stylized approach to creating games is further enhanced by their ability to stretch our technology in new directions that not only help in creating amazing gaming experiences but also demonstrate the power and versatility of the Unreal Engine,” said Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games, Inc. “We are thrilled to bring the Chair team into the Epic family, and look forward to working with them to create original new games that continue to innovate and inspire.”
The studio was founded in 2005 and has released only one game so far. It has also got exclusive development rights to Orson Scott Card’s bestselling sci-fi novel.
Following the trend of acquisitions in the gaming industry set by the mergers between Activision and Vivendi, as well as EA’s attempted takeover of Take-Two, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada has announced plans to invest in rival publishers and developers to combat rising competition from both new and established companies.
“Economies of scale and breadth of scope is getting important. It may be a business alliance or it may be us taking a stake in others, but we need to go beyond traditional Square Enix,” Wada said. “We face competition not only from Japanese videogame companies but from game companies worldwide. We also see some new players from outside the videogame industry coming in.”
No specific companies were mentioned.
Valve announced that it has acquired Turtle Rock Studios, the Orange County-based development studio behind portions of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, various Counter-Strike maps and the upcoming Left 4 Dead game.
The studio’s Left 4 Dead joins Valve’s game properties which includes the blockbuster Half-Life franchise, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress and Day of Defeat series of games, as well as Portal.
“We have been seeing very strong growth with Steam and Source, our content distribution and development platforms, up over 150% over the last 12 months. Given our expectations for Left 4 Dead and our long-standing relationships with members of the Turtle Rock team, this was an easy decision. It also gives us a base from which to expand our development activities in the Los Angeles area,” said Gabe Newell, president of Valve.
Left 4 Dead is now expected to be released this Summer on PC.
1C Company sends word that it has acquired one of the most famous Russian developers Ino-Co, creator of the award-winning Star Wolves and Fantasy Wars. The studio is now renamed to 1C: Ino-Co and is currently working on the sequel to Fantasy Wars called Elven Legacy. The game is scheduled for release next year; they are also working on two undisclosed projects based on world-class IPs.
The European publisher also announced that they are holding a Fantasy Wars tournament, giving players the chance to win a custom painted PC case.
Expanding its reach to casual gamers everywhere, PopCap Games has announced that it has acquired SpinTop Games. Both are casual games developers, with the latter having a “consumer online destination” for such games.
As per the announcement, SpinTop co-founders and executives Duncan Magee and Craig Hamilton will manage the company as a subsidiary of PopCap. The company adds to PopCaps portfolio with more than 250 top downloadable games, millions of customers and more.
“We’re happy to be adding SpinTop’s strong roster of casual games, a Vancouver studio and a direct-to-consumer portal to our existing business,” said David Roberts, Chief Executive Officer at PopCap. “The acquisition provides new publishing opportunities for SpinTop’s games, and strengthens a distribution partnership we established with SpinTop last year.”
“We’re thrilled to become part of the de facto leader in the casual games market,” said Duncan Magee, co-founder of SpinTop. “PopCap’s focus and outstanding track record of creating the biggest brands in the business made joining this winning team an easy decision for us.”
No financial details were disclosed.
The studio behind the Lego Star Wars franchise has purchased Embryonic Studios for an undisclosed amount. Founded in 2005 by Nick Elms, formerly of Warthog and Digital Anvil, Embryonic worked on a number of titles including Star Trek: Invasion, Battlestar Galactica and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
“We are delighted to have completed the acquisition,” said Jon Burton of Traveller’s Tales. “Embryonic possess a very talented workforce that will help drive Traveller’s Tales on to further success.”
Bringing good news to SCi is Warner Bros., who has acquired ten percent of the company in a deal worth 44.5 million GBP. SCi is taking this deal very ambitiously, as the company has announced that it will create games based on Looney Tunes characters for portables; produce up to ten games based on Hanna-Barbera characters; games based on the Batman character as well as the hit TV show OC. Additionally, SCi has acquired the licensed for animated TV shows Loonatics Unleashed and Legion of Super Heroes.
That’s not all: it will also produce up to 20 games in total across current and next-gen platforms, with Warner Bros. providing primary distribution and media buying services to Eidos in the US. Expect to see these titles released from 2008 onwards.
JoWood has announced its intentions to move into the North American market with the takeover of DreamCatcher, the publisher of quite a few renowned adventure games and Painkller. This acquisition will provide JoWood direct access to major retailers across the region, strengthening and spreading its network.
“Acquiring DreamCatcher perfectly aligns with JoWooD’s strategy to deliver high-quality computer and videogames globally. We are looking at DreamCatcher as our North American counterpart and there are numerous and important synergies waiting to be exploited by all of us” says Albert Seidl, CEO of JoWooD Productions Software AG.
“DreamCatcher is very excited about joining forces with JoWooD. There are some incredible synergies that are now in place that will enable us to build a very strong global company. JoWooD possesses a great line-up of titles, supported by some dynamic brands and we are thrilled about helping to further grow thosebrands in North America,” comments Richard Wah Kan, President and CEO of DreamCatcher.
Buena Vista Games will acquire Climax Racing, the team behind the MotoGP and ATV Offroad Fury franchises. They’ll be joining the ranks of the publisher’s other internal studios Avalanche Software and Propaganda Games.
It is not known yet what will happen to the aforementioned franchises, though BVG has mentioned that Climax Racing will now work on “triple-A racing titles for the next-generation of games consoles.”
VU Games announced that it has purchased two development studios: Secret Lair Studios, located in Washington, and Studio Chin in Shanghai, China. The purchase of the latter is subject to approval by the Chinese government, and VU Games is currently in the process of obtaining said approval.
These acquisitions position the publisher’s Sierra Online division as a key publisher of Xbox Live Arcade titles. It already has numerous titles in development, including Assault Heroes, Carcassone and many others. The newly acquired studios will contribute to the development of titles for Xbox Live Arcade and PC.