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38 Studios Acquires Big Huge Games
38 Studios Acquires Big Huge Games
May 27, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

May 27, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

38 Studios has acquired Rise of Nations developer Big Huge Games from publisher THQ. In the transaction, the Massachusetts-based developer-publisher receives all of Big Huge's IP, tools, assets, tech and all its projects in development.

The financial terms weren't disclosed, but 38 Studios calls the move "a critical step" in its strategy to build entertainment properties around its original fantasy IP, Copernicus. The remaining Big Huge Games team -- which had already gone through more than one round of layoffs under THQ -- will remain in its Timonium, Maryland home, but will be integrated into 38 studios.

"The acquisition of Big Huge Games will be tremendously beneficial to the growth, market position, financial stability, and long-term success of 38 Studios," says 38 Studios president and CEO Brett Close.

The crux of the acquisition was apparently Big Huge's proprietary RTS/RPG engine, which Close says will "accelerate" development for the online game based on the Copernicus IP. But he notes the engine will also support development in "multiple genres that are based in a shared world."

Veteran developers Brian Reynolds, Jason Coleman, Dave Inscore, and Tim Train founded Big Huge Games in 2000, and have enjoyed the involvement of Oblivion and Morrowind co-creator Ken Rolston along the way. Its last-released project was the Xbox Live version of board game Catan, and the studio has an unnamed RPG in the works for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC.

In April of this year, THQ applied major layoffs to the studio as part of widespread cost-cutting initiatives across all of its studios. At the time, THQ said the studio would be closed if it couldn't find a buyer.

"Big Huge Games and 38 Studios share a common vision to deliver the most engaging, compelling, original experiences possible," says Big Huge CEO Tim Train. "Joining the 38 Studios family allows us to continue translating our passions into great games."

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Andrew Heywood
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Good news for the staff at Big Huge - especially given 38's excellent human rights record (i.e. Brett Close's stance on quality of life).

Jonathan Rush
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Woah, very cool!

Eric Scharf
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"In the transaction, the Massachusetts-based developer-publisher receives all of Big Huge's IP, tools, assets, tech and all its projects in development."

It will be interesting, naturally and objectively speaking, to see how long the BHG office remains open. The Hunt Valley, Maryland game development community is fighting tooth and nail to avoid any further shrinkage, even though the 38 Studios deal appears solid.

Outside of the minute possibility of an impossibly expensive office lease, however, you can add relocatable development personnel to the stack of assets 38 has received. Copernicus has been and will continue to be a massive undertaking (no pun intended) for 38, and if they are better served having these new resources close at hand, rather than via web cam, expect 38 to return to a one-stop shop.

This is, of course, not a rocket science revelation - simply the logical next step . . . with all current resources poured into Copernicus (with more required) and no local-to-Maynard resources available to pour over the BHG core tech and tool sets.

Dan Haspert
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I think its horrible what THQ did to BHG. They purchased the highly regarded studio to what, lay off over a hundred of its employees. Then, to add insult to injury they threaten to close the studio if someone did not buy it. All of this happening within months of THQ's own purchase of the company!

Corporate greed is what has gotten our world into its current predicament, and its what has gotten THQ into there's. Like Activision, EA, and Atari, you folks have lost your way and should be ashamed...

Travis Jones
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I'm really glad that BHG seems to have found a proper home. They make spectacular products, and I'd really hate to see that dissipate because of what Microsoft and THQ did.

Tom Kammerer
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YES! Keep Hunt Valley strong so I can get some Local Game developer jobs.