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Breaking: Warner Bros. Acquires Turbine

Posted Apr 20, 2010 by Michael Bitton

Breaking: Warner Bros. Acquires Turbine

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group has just announced the acquisition of Turbine, Inc. Turbine, of course, are the developers of Asheron's Call, Lord of the Rings Online, and the hybrid free-to-play/subscription-based Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Read below for additional details:

“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.”

The official announcement can be viewed here. We will be reaching out to Turbine for comments, so stay tuned!

UPDATE: Additional details are trickling in. An article over at the Boston Globe reveals 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."

A second article over at the Financial Times (registration required) provides some additional insight on the possibilities Turbine's acquisiton presents to Warner Bros through the use of Turbine's developed micro-transaction tech: "Warner could charge players to update film-themed games with more content once a new film is released, helping to tackle the threat of the second-hand market by persuading consumers to hold on to each game for longer.

Such franchise games also create a deeper relationship with consumers, helping Warner’s sales of DVDs and other merchandise, Mr Tsujihara said."

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Michael Bitton / Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB

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