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Warner buys majority stake in Batman video game developer

February 23, 2010 | 10:23 am

BatmanAA After co-publishing the first successful mature video game based on a DC Comics character in many years last summer, Warner Bros. has quickly taken its makers in-house.

Warner has acquired a majority stake in Rocksteady Studios, the London-based developer of 2009 hit Batman: Arkham Asylum. The critically acclaimed video game has shipped more than 3 million units and Warner Bros. has already announced that it plans to publish a sequel, which will also be produced by Rocksteady. Though it was undoubtedly helped by renewed interest in the Batman character, Arkham Asylum had an original story not connected to the 2008 movie, "The Dark Knight," which gamers embraced.

In a strategy mapped by Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara, Warner has been steadily expanding its video game ambitions since 2004, when it released it first game, The Matrix Online (which turned out to be a major flop). Since then it has acquired Washington-based developers Monolith Productions and Snowblind Studios as well as Britain's Traveller's Tales, maker of the family-friendly Lego Star Wars games (it is now working on Lego Harry Potter). Last year it acquired some assets from then-bankrupt Midway Games, including two production studios and intellectual property such as the Mortal Kombat fighting series.

In a news release announcing the deal, Rocksteady games director Sefton Hill indicated that his company will be making other games based on Warner properties besides an Arkham Asylum sequel.

"The Rocksteady team is very much looking forward to creating more great games based on widely recognized Warner Bros. brands like Batman," he said in a statement.

As Warner looks to expand its output of movies based on its co-owned DC Comics superheroes in the coming years. Rocksteady would be an obvious go-to developer for tie-in games.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Batman: Arkham Asylum. Credit: Eidos / Warner Bros.