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Starbreeze's latest acquisition is a VR/AR toys-to-life company

Starbreeze's latest acquisition is a VR/AR toys-to-life company

June 30, 2016 | By Alex Wawro

Swedish game company Starbreeze is adding another acquisition to its books with the purchase of ePawn, a French company that takes virtual reality, augmented reality and toys-to-life tech as its remit.

The deal, valued at roughly €5.5 million Euros (approximately $6 million USD) in stock and cash, comes shortly after Acer gave Starbreeze $9 million to help fund development of the company's StarVR headset. Now, the purchase of ePawn notably expands Starbreeze's portfolio of VR/AR tech patents and game development tools.

Those new tools revolve around blurring the line between physical and digital games, as the folks at ePawn have been working on things like AR positional tracking systems, floor tiles that track movement to assist in VR positional tracking, and physical toys that interact with digital games via NFC technology.

"With ePawn, we will significantly diversify our virtual reality and toys-to-life offerings, as well as speed up the development of existing internal projects already in the works," stated Starbreeze chief Bo Andersson Klint in a press release about the purchase. "The ePawn team has already innovated and productified their technologies and we acquire not only many good ways of applying them, but also a solid portfolio of patents that will benefit Starbreeze for many years to come."

The deal is the latest in a string of purchases by Starbreeze that includes everything from an engine company to a VR tech firm to the classic Cinemaware label and its vintage catalog of games.

The company's fortunes have been seen a significant uptick since it acquired Payday developer Overkill Software in 2012, driving Starbreeze -- which saw roughly $14 million in losses during its first 15 years -- to earn nearly $14 million in profits during 2014. Much of that is due to the outsized success of Payday 2, so it's not surprising that Starbreeze acquired full rights to the Payday franchise from publisher 505 Games earlier this year.

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