THQ buys Big Huge Games

Smackdown maker scoops up Rise of Nations developer for estimated $20-$40M, touts its forthcoming PS3/360/PC RPG--but no RTSes; future console projects hinted at.

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Eight months ago THQ announced a deal with Big Huge Games to work on an unnamed role-playing game. The agreement marked a new direction for the Maryland-based independent developer, which has won numerous awards for series of real-time strategy titles. Its critically acclaimed catalog includes Rise of Nations, Rise of Legends, and the expansion pack Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties.

But while all Big Huge Games' past titles were published by Microsoft Game Studios, all its future games will have the THQ stick on the box. Today, the Smackdown! publisher made a Big Huge announcement: It has bought Big Huge Games outright for an undisclosed sum. However, Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Shawn Milne estimated "the acquisition was in the $20 million to $40 million range given the size (100 developers) and quality of the studio."

"The acquisition of Big Huge Games is a big win for THQ as we continue to expand both our internal development capabilities and our portfolio of owned intellectual properties," said Jack Sorensen, THQ's executive vice president of worldwide studios.

Though the THQ announcement didn't reveal any new details about Big Huge Games' new RPG, it did offer some hints about the studio's future direction. Nowhere in the release was there any mention of the RTS titles that put Big Huge Games on the map. Instead, Big Huge Games is described as "a leading development studio focused on the role-playing-game (RPG) genre."

THQ's release also revealed that BHG is working on "additional console projects based on their proprietary technology" besides its mystery RPG. The unnamed Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC title is the first multiplatform title from the studio, which also developed the Xbox Live Arcade version of the strategy board game Catan.

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