Sega buys Secret Level

With its eye on Western next-gen gamers, the Japanese publisher subsumes the San Francisco indie shop.

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Last July, independent studio Secret Level announced a next-generation development deal with game giant Sega. The arrangement was to see the San Francisco-based shop "re-create a classic Sega franchise" on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for the Japanese developer. While the unnamed game in question isn't Sonic the Hedgehog--which is being shepherded into the next generation internally--the prospect of a next-gen Altered Beast or Golden Axe has many gamers excited.

Whatever the project is, it apparently has Sega excited too. So excited, in fact, that today the former console maker announced it is buying Secret Level outright. Prior to its next-gen project, Secret Level was best known for developing Karaoke Revolution, Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds, and America's Army: Rise of a Soldier.

Though financial details of the purchase were not disclosed, Sega was up front about its motivation for paying top dollar for Secret Level. "We looked long and hard at building an internal studio from scratch, but were so impressed with the team at Secret Level and their next-gen technology that we decided to create our internal development infrastructure through a direct acquisition," said Simon Jeffery, Sega of America's president and COO.

The deal comes just over a year after Sega acquired The Creative Assembly, makers of the highly acclaimed Total War PC strategy series and the not-so-highly acclaimed Spartan: Total Warrior for consoles. It also comes two weeks after Sega announced another major deal with a Western developer. On March 23, it announced it will "collaboratively develop" an all-new role-playing game with NeverWinter Nights 2 developer Obsidian Entertainment for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.

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