Friday, 08 May 2009 04:56

Microsoft boosting games team with Canadian acquisition

Microsoft Game Studios is set to acquire Vancouver-based BigPark.

Despite - or perhaps because of? - recent losses in its entertainment division, Microsoft has announced plans to acquire Canadian games company BigPark.

Founded by former Electronic Arts Canada and Distinctive Software executives, BigPark's focus is interactive online games.

BigPark senior staff have previously been involved in many big-name games, including FIFA Soccer, NBA Street, NHL Hockey, and Need for Speed.

One of BigPark's founders, Don Mattrick, subsequently joined Microsoft as head of its interactive entertainment business.

During the last year, BigPark and Microsoft have been working on an as yet undisclosed game for the Xbox 360.

Following the acquisition, BigPark will become part of Microsoft Game Studios.

What do the parties have to say about the matter? Please read on.

"We are delighted by the opportunity to welcome the BigPark team into Microsoft Game Studios, said Phil Spencer, general manager, Microsoft Game Studios.

"The team is composed of some of the most experienced and creative minds working in the industry today.

"The combination of the BigPark and Microsoft Game Studios talent pools will be an accelerant for growth and innovation.

"We believe BigPark has tremendous potential to create new properties and innovative gaming experiences for our platforms, one of which we're looking forward to showcasing at the E3 Expo in June."

The enthusiasm appears mutual. “This opportunity provides us with access to the unparalleled talent, resources and exciting innovation taking place within Microsoft," said Wil Mozell, studio president and co-founder of BigPark.

"We're looking forward to being part of the Microsoft Game Studios team, where we believe we can successfully contribute to shaping key Microsoft initiatives through fresh and engaging consumer experiences."

Given that BigPark claims it "creates the best 15 minutes of your day" with "accessible and highly entertaining interactive experiences", it is possible that the acquisition is part of Microsoft's efforts to position the Xbox 360 as a console for casual as well as serious gamers and win back some of the market grabbed by Nintendo's Wii.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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