Take-Two takes in Firaxis

Grand Theft Auto publisher swallows up Civilization developer, bolstering in-house dev talent.

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In late 2004, Civilization fans learned that the long-running franchise was changing owners. French publisher Infogrames revealed that it had sold the rights to the popular historical strategy series for $22.3 million to an unnamed company. In January 2005, it was revealed that said buyer was none other than Take-Two Interactive, which went on to publish Civilization IV under its 2K Games subbrand.

Civilization IV hit store shelves on October 25 to sparkling reviews. Sales must not have been too shabby, either, since today Take-Two announced that it was buying the game's developer, Firaxis Games, outright. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the two companies did say Firaxis would now become part of 2K Games' suite of studios.

No personnel changes were announced, though Take-Two did make much of the fact that Firaxis remains the home of Civilization creator Sid Meier. Take-Two also published the renowned designer's buccaneer adventure, Sid Meier's Pirates!, for the PC and Xbox. "We're excited about all of the possibilities ahead of us as we work together to explore new ideas, new products, and new consumer markets,” said Meier, who is Firaxis' director of creative development.

Firaxis was founded in 1996 by Jeff Briggs, its current CEO and president. Briggs had previously worked with Meier at MicroProse, developer of the original Civilization, which was later bought by Atari. "This is a tremendous opportunity for Firaxis," said Briggs. "2K Games is an energetic label that shares our goals and vision for making great games that stand the test of time."

Today's deal is the latest indication of Take-Two's efforts to be a major presence in the PC game market. The company will publish Bethesda Softworks' eagerly anticipated PC role-playing game, the recently delayed Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, next year. (An Xbox 360 version is also coming out.)

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