Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group of companies, is being tipped to return to games with an announcement next month. According to a report by British industry trade magazine MCV, the entrepreneur will attend the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June to launch a new product: an online-only service that is set to partner with leading publishers and content owners.
MCV reports that Branson's new business is expected to run across the "leading console formats," including "Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, as well as multiplayer PC gaming." The new venture will also feature the "most popular games on the market," according to the magazine, and will be "challenge-based." The service described by MCV sounds similar to the one Branson announced in 2007 called A World of My Own, which sells downloadable games and is currently remains in beta.
Branson's Virgin Games label was a successful venture in the mid-to-late 1980s, publishing games across the majority of major PC and console platforms. The brand was renamed Virgin Interactive in 1994 and published Disney games, such The Lion King and The Jungle Book, as well as the original Command & Conquer.
Virgin's assets were sold off to various companies in the late 1990s, with its British studios acquired in a management buyout, US developer Westwood going to EA, and the remaining assets snapped up by French publisher--and bankrupt Interplay parent--Titus Software. The Virgin Games brand now exists in the form of an online casino, poker, and bingo portal. With BT teaming up with OnLive in the UK, and Virgin Media offering similar services in that market, there's plenty of scope for Branson to want to get back into the industry.