Since its creation in 1994, Boston-based Turbine grew to be the largest, privately-held online gaming studio in North America, creating some of the most amazing gaming worlds on the internet before that was the cool thing to do. Starting with Asheron’s Call back in 1999, moving through one of the world’s best free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing games, Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited and right up to the first (and only) MMORPG based on the works of Tolkein, The Lord of the Rings Online.
…and it seems that for Warner Bros, that Tolkein IP is the jewel in the already-sparkling Turbine crown. You see, until now, Warner Bros held all of the games rights for The Lord of the Rings – with the exception of those for the literary MMO. With the acquisition of Turbine, all rights for all games based on The Lord of the Rings franchise are collected under the Warner Bros shield.
Kevin Tsujihara, president, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group explains:
“Turbine is a leader in online entertainment and a strong strategic fit for Warner Bros. as we continue to broaden our games portfolio and development capabilities.
Turbine’s renowned online game development and publishing expertise will help us develop additional online product offerings, while also providing us with new and innovative ways to market and communicate with our consumers.”
“We have been looking to expand access to our online worlds to more players and more markets.
This acquisition is very exciting because it allows us to expand globally while continuing to focus on creating spectacular online games that our loyal fans and players have come to expect.”
The deal doesn’t just give WBIE an awesome developer – it brings along a whole new proprietary digital publiching platform, enabling “robust” online merchandising opportunities, “dynamic” direct-to-consumer relationships and a “vibrant” e-commerce functionality for online games. Turbine have even developed a social networking platform which integrates their self-developed online communities into popular social networks. Even if we ignore “video games” for the moment, it’s obvious that these platforms can present some unique opportunities for the other home entertainment businesses under the Warner Bros. umbrella.
Martin Tremblay, president, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment continues:
“Turbine is recognized globally for its industry-leading technology, groundbreaking graphics and its unique ability to create and operate massive and persistent online worlds which greatly enhance players’ social gaming experiences.
The Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online have both been an enormous success for Turbine and we look forward to working with their talented development team to continue creating award-winning online games.”
Turbine are the latest in a growing collection of companies who have been acquired by Warner Bros. – in 2007 the publishers picked up TT Games (and with them, the hit LEGO-based game franchises). 2009 saw them nab Snowblind, putting them to work on the action-based Lord of the Rings games franchise. Later that year, they picked up the primary assets of Midway Games (that’d include Mortal Kombat, for those playing at home). Through some ‘key acquisitions’ and focussing on major games franchises (including FEAR, Mortal Kombat, LOTR and LEGO), it looks like Warner Bros. could soon be a major player in the industry, challenging even the biggest of names.