Mass Effect, BioShock Co-Developer Regains Its Independence From Sega

Boston-based developer Demiurge is independent once more, and it plans to help other studios release their games amid the COVID-19 crisis.

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Demiurge Studios, the Boston-based developer that worked on the BioShock, Mass Effect, and Rock Band franchises, has regained its independence. Albert Reed, one of the company's founders, has bought the studio back from Sega, which owned it since 2015.

"We can't be more excited to embark on this new yet familiar adventure as we return to Demiurge's foundation. We will continue our unrivaled tradition of partnering with world-class game developers and publishers to release fantastic games that players love," the company said in a post on its website.

The statement goes on to say that Demiurge had an "amazing ride" with Sega over the past five years where it worked on Sega Heroes and Crazy Taxi Tycoon.

Over its history, Demiurge worked with a number of big-name partners, including Harmonix, Gearbox, Irrational, and BioWare. The studio contributed to multiple Rock Band track packs, built the PC edition of Mass Effect, assisted with art design on the original BioShock, and worked on the ultimately canceled Wii U version of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Demiurge also worked with Marvel on the puzzle game Marvel Puzzle Quest.

Reed and his business partner Geoffrey Hyatt purchased Demiurge back from Sega, though terms of the buyout were not disclosed. "When Sega was looking to make a strategic change and were interested in doing something different, they gave us a call," Reed told GI.biz. "One thing led to another and now here we are."

As a newly independent studio, Reed said he wants Demiurge to return to its roots by focusing more on helping other studios finish games than creating their own new projects. This is an especially important time for that, as the PS5 and Xbox Series X are coming soon, and some developers will be looking for outside help to get their games out the door, Reed said.

"We see those businesses rise at the start of new console generations because there's a bunch of new hard problems and everyone is sort of pressed and pouring more money into research and development," he said. "We see it when business models evolve, which I think is happening right now in console and PC with games-as-a-service."

For the next 12-18 months, Demiurge will be looking to support the work of other games instead of developing its own original games. This is something Reed is proud of, even if others might scoff at it.

"Some other indies might look down their noses, but we've found it to be incredibly rewarding work. You get to work with fantastic IPs and learn from the best developers. It's a great business," he said.

Reed also pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing disruption in the gaming landscape, which creates an opportunity for Demiurge to offer its help to studios that need it.

"That means that every game in development on the planet is now a month behind," Reed said. "So we're excited to find partners that need a little extra muscle to get their games over the finish line."

It's also worth noting that Demiurge's existing games, Sega Heroes and Marvel Puzzle Quest, will continue operation during this new era for the company.

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