Vivendi Universal buys High Moon Studios

Former Sammy Studios team leaves brief flirtation with independent game development, sells studio, original properties to VU Games.

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After nine months as an independent developer, High Moon Studios has accepted an acquisition offer from Vivendi Universal Games. The global games publisher announced the deal today, saying it will retain the developer's intellectual properties (including the rights to Darkwatch), as well as the studio's staff of more than 100 employees. High Moon CEO and president John Rowe will stay on to manage the studio. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Although VU Games previously had no public connection to High Moon, it has been working with the company on an upcoming, as-yet-unannounced project.

"We have been collaborating on a title based on a major entertainment license, and we have been very impressed with the way that project has progressed," VU Games' executive vice president of worldwide studios, Peter Della Penna, told GameSpot. "That, coupled with High Moon's innovative development style and the excellent critical response to the title Darkwatch, made High Moon a logical choice to join Radical, Swordfish Studios, and Massive as part of VU Games' outstanding development group."

Like those other studios, High Moon Studios will retain its name and identity unique from VU Games.

The company was established in 2002 as Sammy Studios (the American development arm of Japanese pachinko titan Sammy Corp.), and it appeared as if the Carlsbad, California-based studio was going to be another casualty of corporate downsizing after a round of layoffs last January. Two months later, backed by a group of investors, Rowe swept in and purchased the studio from its parent company, renaming it High Moon in the process.

In the nine months since, High Moon has released the vampire-infested Western first-person shooter Darkwatch for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, focused its energies on the development of several unannounced titles for next-generation systems, and was named among the Top 50 Technology Innovators of 2005 by IT Week.

For more on the deal and what led High Moon to join the Vivendi Universal stable, check out GameSpot's Q&A with Rowe.

Discussion

15 comments
incabobcrane
incabobcrane

Wow, if VU bought out High moon, maybe they can push out Starcraft : Ghost in THIS century >___

Yazu13
Yazu13

Alright, they just got rid of yet another competitor!

CyphenX
CyphenX

I rented Darkwatch and It was a really fun game. Good move VU.

spchernandez
spchernandez

You will now F.E.A.R the Darkwatch ... on next gen consoles lets all hope ;-)

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

it would be sweet to be bought out (well, not if EA was buying you)..... you get some extra cash for your wallet AND you get to continue making games.

SubSane0
SubSane0

In response to the first comment: Radical has been a huge asset to VUG as well, especially after Simpsons Hit & Run and The Hulk. Hopefully High Moon flourishes just as Radical has.

forever_blank
forever_blank

Well, all I will say is that, there seem to be a lot of aquisitions lately... in the gaming world that is. Good for High Moon, 100 staff is a lot, don't you think

Jorge_Cav
Jorge_Cav

Cool and also great that high moon studios will retain its name and identity unique from vu games.

UnlivedPhalanx
UnlivedPhalanx

ok, this is kind of cool. I didn't like the High Moon games much.

Donkeljohn
Donkeljohn

Sammy buys SEGA, spins off High Moon, and then VU Games snatches up High Moon? I suppose that is a good move for VU Games since the only money making arm they are really flexing is Blizzard. . . especially with the loss of Valve's participation.