WB acquires Turbine

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Various press reports on the purchase of Turbine by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

Develop Online

Warner Bros. buys Turbine in '$160m' deal

Wednesday, 21st April 2010 at 9:58 am

http://www.develop-online.net/news/34579/Warner-Bros-buys-Turbine-in-160m-deal

Lord of the Rings MMO studio no longer independent

Warner Bros. has acquired indie MMO developer Turbine in what is reported to be a $160 million deal. Turbine – the Massachusetts-based studio responsible for Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online – is now fully owned by Warner following sixteen years of independence.

Turbine CEO Jim Crowley said the acquisition will allow it to expand its business globally.

Warner Bros.’ latest buyout completes the publisher’s full ownership of the Lord of the Rings game brand – a franchise often tipped to be the likeliest to compete with genre kingpin World of Warcraft.

Last year the group purchased J.R.R. Tolkien's original literary Lord of the Rings works in a deal with previous owner EA. Numbers behind the deal have not been announced, though a purported source close to the matter said the deal will be as high as $160 million.

The deal continues Warner’s aggressive expansion across the game industry, having bought up a majority of properties sold by fallen firm Midway, before going on to buy a majority share in Batman studio Rocksteady Games.

Boston Globe

Boston-area video game company Turbine acquired

April 20, 2010 07:02 PM

http://www.boston.com/business/ticker/2010/04/turbine_sold.html
By Hiawatha Bray, Globe Staff

Turbine Inc., one of the Boston area's biggest video game companies, has been acquired by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Inc. of Burbank, Calif., a business unit of media giant Time Warner Inc.

"I view this as Hollywood coming to Boston," said Turbine's chief executive Jim Crowley, who said the deal underscores Greater Boston's increasing prominence as a center for video game development. Financial details of the deal were not released, but a source close to the negotiations said that Warner Bros. will pay as much as $160 million, including sums to be paid to Turbine shareholders in future years if the company meets certain financial targets.

Turbine, a privately-held, venture-backed company in Westwood, is one of the leading makers of Internet-based, multi-player adventure games. The company produces Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and Asheron's Call. Thousands of players subscribe to Lord of the Rings and Asheron's Call, paying monthly fees of around $15 for the right to play and socialize with one another online.

Dungeons & Dragons is a "free-to-play" game. Anyone can log on and play for no charge, but players can also purchase additional powers and abilities that make the game more entertaining. Crowley refused to reveal the number of paid subscribers to Lord of the Rings and Asheron's Call, but he said that more than one million people play Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Warner Bros. Interactive has bought a number of game development houses in recent years, in a bid to become a major power in video gaming. In 2007, the company purchased TT Games, a British firm that develops family-friendly products like Lego Star Wars and Lego Batman. In 2009, Warner Bros. bought the assets of bankrupt Chicago game company Midway, maker of the popular Mortal Kombat games. And earlier this year, it acquired a majority stake in Rocksteady Studios, another British developer, which created the hit game Batman: Arkham Asylum.

"The developers they're buying are first-rate." said Michael Pachter, game industry research analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. "It's showing they're really interested in quality."

Acquiring Turbine will give Warner Bros. total control over all future video games based on author J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved Lord of the Rings novels. Turbine holds an exclusive license to make an Internet-based game based on the books, while last year, Warner Bros. won a license to make non-Internet-based Tolkien video games.

Martin Tremblay, president of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, said that control of the Tolkien gaming franchise was just one reason his company was interested in Turbine. Tremblay said that Warner Bros. would work with the Turbine team to develop new online gaming properties. "We will, for sure, in the future expand that platform to much more new product," he said.

Tremblay wouldn't discuss possible new games. But Warner Bros. controls a stable of likely properties, including DC Comics characters like Batman and Superman.

Bob Davis, managing partner at Highland Capital Partners in Lexington, a venture capital firm that helped finance Turbine, said that bringing in the company's developers would make it easier for Warner Bros. to develop online games based on the company's entertainment franchises. "Warner Bros. is not just buying up great intellectual property, but they're also acquiring one of the best development teams in the world," Davis said.

Los Angeles Times

Warner Bros. acquires Turbine, developer of Lord of the Rings Online

April 20, 2010 6:48 pm

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2010/04/warner-bros-acquires-turbine.html
by Alex Pham

Warner Bros. has just gotten more rights to the "Lord of the Rings" fantasy world.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, the video game division of the Burbank movie studio, said it has acquired Turbine Inc., a Massachusetts developer of online games.

Turbine's specialty is in creating massively multi-player online games such as Asheron's Call, Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. Warner acquired the movie rights to the "Lord of The Rings" trilogy and "The Hobbit" when it acquired New Line in 2008. Turbine's game license fit neatly into Warner's portfolio of licenses from the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien.

For Warner, Turbine's expertise in building online games could come in handy should the studio want to launch online games to go with blockbuster movie releases. Another bonus: Turbine has had some success getting online players to pay for virtual goods for its Dungeons & Dragons game.

“The Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online have both been an enormous success for Turbine," Martin Tremblay, president of Warner Bros. Interactive, said in a statement.

Between monthly subscription fees and virtual goods, Turbine's annual revenue last year was between $35 million and $50 million, according to a person familiar with the acquisition. This year, Turbine's sales are expected to exceed $50 million.

The Turbine deal follows four major game company acquisitions in less than three years for Warner, which snagged a majority stake in Rocksteady Studios, developer of Batman: Arkham Asylum, in February. Last year, it bought Snowblind Studios and most of the assets of Midway Games. In 2007, Warner snapped up U.K.-based TT Games, which made Lego Batman and Lego Star Wars.

IGN

Warner Bros. Acquires Turbine

All Lord of the Rings games now under one roof.
APRIL 20, 2010

http://www.ign.com/articles/2010/04/20/warner-bros-acquires-turbine
by Nick Kolan


In what appears to be an act of franchise-consolidation, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group announced today the acquisition of the talented MMO developer Turbine, Inc. Turbine, who developed Asheron's Call, Lord of the Rings Online, and Dungeons and Dragons Online, are also credited with helping legitimize the free-to-play model for massively multiplayer online games in North America.

"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," said Kevin Tsujihara, president, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. "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."

Until this acquisition, Warner Bros. owned all rights for Lord of the Rings games with the exception of MMOs – of which Turbine was the sole holder. Time Warner, which is the parent company of Warner Bros., was a major investor in Turbine's 2008 $40 million financing round.

This move follows several other acquisitions, the latest of which being the Rocksteady Aqcuisition in February, and further cements Warner Bros. as a major game publisher.

Massively

Turbine purchased by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Apr 20th 2010 8:00PM

http://massively.joystiq.com/2010/04/20/turbine-purchased-by-warner-bros-home-entertainment/
by Justin Olivetti

In news that rocked us back on our heels, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has just announced the purchase of Turbine Inc. Previously the largest privately-owned MMO studio in North America, Turbine is now a member of the Time-Warner family. This means that Asheron's Call, Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online have been folded into this deal. This comes after a Warner Bros. spending spree, in which they picked up TT Games, the assets of Midway, and a majority stake in Rocksteady Studios.

"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," said Martin Tremblay, president, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. "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."

This isn't the first time that Turbine and Warner Bros. were bedfellows, as they partnered to distribute LotRO's Mines of Moria expansion. One interesting fact of this deal is that this means Warner Bros. will now hold all of the game rights to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings franchise, which were previously split between Turbine (who held the rights to the MMO) and Warner Bros. (who had the other LOTR game rights).

Financial Times indicates one possible reason for the acquisition: "Warner Bros is buying North America's largest independent online gaming studio in an effort to spread its social networking and micro-payments technology across its video games and home video business."

You can read the press release over on Turbine's website, and give a little love to our friends at Joystiq who are also covering this news (just with more hearts).

Turbine Press Release

April 20, 2010

https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?328522-Turbine-Acquired-by-Warner-Bros-!

WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT GROUP ACQUIRES TURBINE, INC.
NORTH AMERICA’S LARGEST PRIVATELY-HELD
ONLINE GAMING STUDIO

BURBANK, Calif., April 20, 2010 – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group announced today the acquisition of Turbine, Inc., the largest privately-held online gaming studio in North America, further strengthening Warner Bros.’ position as one of the industry’s fastest growing, full-scale games publishers.

“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,” said Kevin Tsujihara, president, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. “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.”

Founded in 1994 and operating primarily in Boston, Turbine has created some of the most popular and exciting gaming worlds on the Internet, including Dungeons & Dragons Online®: Eberron Unlimited™, the world’s best free-to-play massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) and The Lord of the Rings Online™, the first and only MMORPG based on the books of J.R.R. Tolkien. Previously, Warner Bros. held all The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) games rights, with the exception of the literary MMO (massively multiplayer online game) rights. Now all games rights for the LOTR franchise will be unified under the Warner Bros. shield.

“We have been looking to expand access to our online worlds to more players and more markets,” said Jim Crowley, president and CEO, Turbine, Inc. “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.”

Additionally, the acquisition of Turbine provides Warner Bros. with access to a proprietary digital publishing platform that enables dynamic direct-to-consumer relationships, robust online merchandising opportunities and vibrant e-commerce functionality for online games. Turbine has also developed a social networking platform that can integrate their self-developed online communities with popular third-party social networks. Outside of the games arena, these platforms present unique opportunities for Warner’s other home entertainment businesses.

“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,” said Martin Tremblay, president, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “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.”

In 2007, Warner Bros. acquired TT Games, developer of the hit LEGO-based game franchises, including LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Indiana Jones and LEGO Batman, which have wide appeal with players of all ages. Early in 2009, Warner Bros. acquired Snowblind Studios to develop its The Lord of the Rings games franchise, with the first title The Lord of the Rings: War in the North expected to be released in 2011. Also in 2009, the Studio purchased the primary assets of Midway Games. Midway published the Mortal Kombat franchise, which has sold over 26 million units worldwide. Most recently, Warner Bros. acquired a majority stake in Rocksteady Studios, a privately held developer of interactive entertainment targeted at teens and adults.

Warner Bros. continues to grow its games business through key acquisitions, building internal development capabilities, leveraging its global video distribution infrastructure, and focusing on developing major games franchises such as Batman, F.E.A.R., Mortal Kombat, The Lord of the Rings and LEGO.

About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group (WBHEG) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment's home video, digital distribution, interactive entertainment, technical operations and anti-piracy businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHEG oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide. WBHEG distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees, as well as directly to consumers through WBShop.com.

About Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, is a premier worldwide publisher, developer, licensor and distributor of entertainment content for the interactive space across all current and future platforms, including console, handheld and PC-based gaming for both internal and third party game titles.

About Turbine
Turbine, Inc. is the premier creator and operator of massive, persistent online worlds that foster powerful social gaming communities. Turbine is the largest privately-held online gaming studio in North America and has created some of the world’s most popular and award-winning online games, including The Lord of the Rings Online™, Dungeons & Dragons Online®: Eberron Unlimited™, and Asheron's Call®. For more information on Turbine, its products and services please visit https://www.turbine.com.

# # #

THE LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE™ interactive video game © 2010 Turbine, Inc. and patents pending. All rights reserved. Middle-earth Poster Map © 2007 The Saul Zaentz Company, d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises f/k/a Tolkien Enterprises (SZC), under license to Turbine, Inc. All rights reserved. “The Lord of the Rings Online”, “Siege of Mirkwood”, Middle-earth Enterprises logo, “The Lord of the Rings” and the names of the characters, events, items and places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of SZC under license to Turbine, Inc. Turbine and the Turbine logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Turbine, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other jurisdictions. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Dungeons & Dragons Online, Eberron Unlimited, Stormreach, Dungeons & Dragons, Sentinels, and Wizards of the Coast are trademarks or registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC in the U.S. and/or other jurisdictions, and are used with permission. Hasbro is a trademark or registered trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other jurisdictions, and are used with permission. Atari and the Atari logo are trademarks owned by Atari Interactive, Inc. Turbine and the Turbine logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Turbine, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other jurisdictions. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.