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Ubisoft Acquires Free-to-play Game Maker Owlient

Ubisoft Acquires Free-to-play Game Maker Owlient

July 12, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

Ubisoft today announced its acquisition of Paris-based free-to-play game maker Owlient, taking control of the company's 40 employees as well as the Howrse brand that attracts nearly 2 million monthly users.

Since its launch in 2005, Owlient has attracted over 25 million registered users for its games in over a dozen countries through Europe, North America and Oceania.

Besides its popular horse-breeding sim Howrse, the company also maintains child-raising game Babydow and French fashion title Fashiown, all targeted at teen and tween girls.

"It's a fast growing and profitable company with a very good technology that we can exploit in the rest of the group," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said of the acquisition in an interview with "What we buy is not only the profit they will make but also the accumulation of know how."

"Joining the Ubisoft team will allow us to accelerate our international business and to expand our expertise and our games to new platforms." said Owlient CEO Olivier Issaly in a statement. "It also lets us integrate our proven online services architecture with Ubisoft's so that we can help grow their brands online."

Speaking to Gamasutra at E3 this year, Ubisoft VP of digital games Chris Early acknowledged that the company's rocky start in the free-to-play market showed how much they have to learn.

"When we launched our big rush of Facebook games, in retrospect that probably wasn't the best idea," he said. "Every one of them was acquiring customers at the same time. I wouldn't say any of them did well enough to compete with ourselves, but we were never able to move people from one to the other."

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed, though Owlient previously attracted €3 million in investment from Innovacom in 2008.

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