Cryptic decoded by Perfect World

Chinese MMORPG developer buys Star Trek Online, Champions developer from Atari for $50 million in cash.

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Two weeks after Atari announced it was looking to sell off Cryptic Studios, the French publisher has found a buyer. Chinese online game publisher Perfect World today announced it has entered into an agreement to purchase the Los Gatos, California-based developer for €35 million ($50.38 million) in cash. The deal is expected to close soon.

Cryptic Studios will soon have a new owner.
Cryptic Studios will soon have a new owner.

"This strategic acquisition will add attractive game titles to our portfolio, which will help us further penetrate into the US and global online game markets," said Michael Chi, chairman and chief executive officer of Perfect World. "More importantly, Cryptic Studios' highly reputable development team and its technology platform will further strengthen our well-established R&D capabilities."

Founded in 2000, Cryptic is the developer of such massively multiplayer online role-playing games as City of Heroes (now owned by NCsoft), Star Trek Online, Champions Online, and the canceled Marvel Universe Online. In December 2008, the company was bought by Atari for as much as $75 million as part of the publisher's efforts to shift its focus to online games.

However, the middling commercial reception of Champions--which is now free-to-play--and lackluster reviews of Star Trek Online have caused the financially troubled Atari to lose an estimated $25 million over the past two years. Cryptic had also been working on the Dungeons & Dragons-themed online game Neverwinter for Atari, the fate of which is now unclear.

As for Perfect World, the company is best known for its line of free-to-play online games based on Chinese mythology. These include Perfect World, Legend of Martial Arts, Perfect World II, Battle of the Immortals, and Forsaken World.

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