Ubisoft acquires Owlient

French publisher expands its free-to-play developer stable with purchase of tween-targeted Howrse maker.

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Ubisoft has pursued a "why build what can be bought" strategy for amping up its online presence in recent years, and the next move in that gambit occurred today. The publisher said that it has purchased Owlient, a Parisian game development studio specializing in free-to-play games. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Ubisoft's Ponyz now has a stable mate in Hawrse.
Ubisoft's Ponyz now has a stable mate in Hawrse.

Founded in 2005, Owlient boasts a development team of 40 and specializes in creating online communities and monetizing free-to-play games. The studio's development expertise lines up with Ubisoft's tween-targeted Imagine and Petz line of games, having created such online titles as Howrse, Babydow, and Fashiown. Ubisoft noted that Owlient's Howrse brand has nearly 2 million monthly active users.

Owlient is just the latest in a growing number of online-focused acquisitions made by Ubisoft. In 2008, Ubisoft acquired World in Conflict studio Massive Entertainment, charging it with creating and aiding in the development of "several ambitious unannounced projects."

A year later, Ubisoft picked up TrackMania creator Nadeo. Last November, the publisher bought Quazal, better known as the studio behind Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's online multiplayer technology.

Ubisoft said that it expects to close on Owlient sometime during its second fiscal quarter.

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