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Take-Two Acquires Firaxis

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the ruh-roh-raggy dept.

Businesses 40

eToyChest reports that Publisher Take-Two has acquired Firaxis studios, developers of the Civilization franchise. From the article: "At this point I'm not sure what to think. If Take-Two takes a hands-off approach, and lets Firaxis do their thing, then I'm all for this. I just don't want this to become a matter of "too many cooks in the kitchen", and somehow negatively impact future titles that spring from Sid Meier's genius. Your thoughts?"

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Big deal (5, Informative)

CasulPoster (705596) | more than 8 years ago | (#13982154)

Take Two has already published two successful Sid Meier's games. This may simply be a way of ensuring that they have permanent control of those franchises.

This is crap (3, Insightful)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 8 years ago | (#13982157)

I don't think it's very good. If Take-two wants to regularly invest (and thus) profit off the games Firaxis makes, then that's fine. If they want to sign an agreement for them to do a certain number of games this way...that's fine. But, there's no reason for all these publishers to keep gobbling up all the developers. We're gonna get to a point where there are very few companies that autonomously create games, and thus less innovation I'm afraid.

Re:This is crap (3, Insightful)

Serapth (643581) | more than 8 years ago | (#13982458)

We there is a reason... survival. When you have a big predator gobbling up every successful independant developer available, if your a rival, you have to act to protect your prize divisions. EA, through their actions, are basically forcing Take2 and Ubi to follow suit to a certain degree. This is also why Pandemic + Bioware merged together with an investment firm. About the only way they could stay independant and successful.

Re:This is crap (1)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 8 years ago | (#13982660)

As while I see your point, survival is very important, it's going to end up hurting future companies. The bigger these companies and their budgets swell, the harder it is going to be for any new companies to even have a shot against these juggernauts. Then again, it may be for the best in the long run as all these uber-developers start churning out more and more cookie cutter crap as the trends are already starting to show ;)

Re:This is crap (1)

Serapth (643581) | more than 8 years ago | (#13983325)

It isnt going to end up hurting future companies, it already has. What you are seeing now is a result of that hurt. More and more risk is being offloaded on the indy developers, while the ROI for that risk is going down and down. Thats why you saw a mass exodus to the "casual" webpublished games a few years back. Ironically, that mass exodus killed that industry aswell, where the major portals replace the major developers in the traditional sense. Where as real used to say take 20%, they take 50 or 60% now. Just the nature of industry in my opinion.

What I predict now, as you are going to see cycles. New dev teams will come out with innovative products because the big publishers were too risk adverse to try it. If that products succeed, one of the big guys will buy out the company and turn that origonal property into a sequel factory. Then dev's bought out by one of those big publishers get the itch to do something origonal, so they branch off and make a new dev house that releases a successful title that some uber publishers buys them out. Repeat adnaseum.

Sid Meier (1)

TelevisioSledgicus (530758) | more than 8 years ago | (#13982171)

Well, I'd expect that if Mr. Meier feels pressured or put upon in any way he can always go start "Firaxis Studios II" and have no problem finding investment capital. No issue here, the franchise is safe.

Re:Sid Meier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13983554)

I also imagine that Sid and Jeff made a lot of money from this... at least, you'd hope so.

just a little closer now (3, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13982214)

Take2 previously handled much of the marketing etc for Firaxis. Take2 doesn't deal so much with the development aspect of game publishing... that's done by the subsidiaries IIRC. Not to say that the parent co doesn't have input, but I imagine it's similar to the original Take2/Rockstar setup. Rockstar devlops games, Take2 publishes them.

Where this worries me is that the Civ franchise will probably need to be dumbed down a bit in order to do well in a larger market -- especially the console market (and you can bet they'll be pushing it there).

I'd like to see the top of the org chart for Take2's new acquisition -- will Sid continue in his current role?

Re:just a little closer now (1)

Gr33nNight (679837) | more than 8 years ago | (#13982395)

I wouldnt mind a Civ port for the DS. The stylus is perfect for it and it really doesnt need to be dumbed down. Id buy that!

One word: MicroProse (5, Interesting)

alexwcovington (855979) | more than 8 years ago | (#13982451)

Remember how Sid Meier's greatest games got sold off piecemeal, and how all the new Railroad Tycoons suck?

That's what happens when Sid Meier isn't involved anymore. Pirates! and Civ IV were great games, but we won't be seeing the likes of them until Sid creates another firm 10 years from now.

Granted, 2K has not been heavyhanded with Rockstar, but then Rockstar makes pretty much the #1 game franchise in the world. A smaller firm like Firaxis will be easy to meddle with and fuck up irreversibly.

Re:One word: MicroProse (3, Insightful)

d3kk (644538) | more than 8 years ago | (#13982730)

... Or they'll understand that games like Civilization are quite successful for a reason and they won't mess with it. Not all publishers exist solely to ruin video games and everything you've ever loved.

Re:One word: MicroProse (1)

Fried-Psitalon (929587) | more than 8 years ago | (#13983202)

Rockstar makes the top game of their type - whatever type you might want to call the GTA series. Firaxis makes the top game of their type - show me a TBS game with the fanbase and staying power of the Civilization series. I'm inclined to give this a cautious thumbs-up. Take2 seems to be in the habit of snapping up successful developers, letting them do their thing, and funding them. Rockstar wasn't meddled with... I don't think Firaxis will be, either.

Is Civ4 not doing well? (1)

Malor (3658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13983078)

Civ4 is amazingly good, a real resurrection of what was great about the first one. It makes no sense for them to be selling out now, unless Civ4 isn't doing well... is it not selling well?

If PC gaming has bitten the dust to that degree, perhaps they're letting themselves be bought out just to survive?

Re:Is Civ4 not doing well? (1)

holySherm (916265) | more than 8 years ago | (#13983167)

Civ 4 went Gold before it was even released so yes I'd assume it is selling well.

Re:Is Civ4 not doing well? (1)

BkBen7 (926853) | more than 8 years ago | (#13983241)

'Gone Gold' in the pc game industry only means that it was shipped to the publisher for distribution, not the number of sales as in the music industry.

Re:Is Civ4 not doing well? (1)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984698)

"Going Gold" is slang in the software industry for being sent to manufacturing. It has nothing to do with sales, it only means the software is deemed ready to ship.

Re:Is Civ4 not doing well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13995563)

Uhm. You're a deviant and ignorant fucktard. going gold means that the gold master has been pressed.

publisher (1)

holySherm (916265) | more than 8 years ago | (#13983118)

they already published some of their games and as publisher were entitled to some input because they really didn't agree with an aspect of the game, they would just drop it unless the dev would fix it, but as it seems take two is as opposite of EA as you can get so perhaps this will just increase the amount of capital Sid Meier will have to work with in his future games. Off-topic slightly: And to one of the other people posting, take two won't move the civ franchise to console simply because it will suck. It doesn't matter how big a name or how great a game it is, a controller just can't compare to a mouse/keyboard for a strategy game of any type so I would just doubt I'd see any of the civ series ported over until at least revolution comes out with a controller that might be a bit more intuitive with those games.

Coming Soon... Civ 5: Grand Theft Capital (3, Funny)

Alpha27 (211269) | more than 8 years ago | (#13983320)

In this turn-based game, you will create brothels, build slaveships, create drug cartels, research ways to refine cocaine, harvest opium fields, and assasinate political leaders, and it'll have a story line.

Re:Coming Soon... Civ 5: Grand Theft Capital (1)

Crunchie Frog (791929) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984157)

Hell I'd buy that game, just as long as my pimped up drugsmobile couldnt get destroyed by a spearmen like my CIV 3 tanks can...

Re:Coming Soon... Civ 5: Grand Theft Capital (1)

Alpha27 (211269) | more than 8 years ago | (#13989346)

If a tank can get destoryed by a spearman, then something is absolutely wrong. I hear Civ 4 has corrected that issue. Sheesh, would I hate to be the player to have to experience that.

Re:Coming Soon... Civ 5: Grand Theft Capital (1)

lazarus2004 (918422) | more than 8 years ago | (#13993606)

Its still not entirely accurate - my tank got destroyed by a samurai.

Re:Coming Soon... Civ 5: Grand Theft Capital (1)

Locke03 (915242) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986150)

New title: Sid Meier's Greed!

Re:Coming Soon... Civ 5: Grand Theft Capital (1)

ColdSam (884768) | more than 8 years ago | (#13990690)

Great, so you're saying that it will be an even better model of world history.

Personal Experience with 2K Acquistions (2, Insightful)

DCookie (142765) | more than 8 years ago | (#13983408)

I develop sports games for a company owned by Take Two under the 2K Sports label. I have worked here before, during, and after the aquisition. I will be the first to say that the acquisition has been nothing but positive for our company. Take Two has not pushed us to do anything we wouldn't have done otherwise and has only provided us with larger pockets from which to draw resources.

I am confident that the acquisition will not negatively impact Firaxis' great line of games.

Cashing Out (1)

thundar2000 (459149) | more than 8 years ago | (#13983443)

Sid must want to retire.

There really is no need to sell to a big publisher, if anything, Sid should of pushed Firaxis into becoming more independent - using digital distribution direct to the players via the internet - instead of getting sucked into a big bloated publisher tied to the big bloated retail world.

Guys like Sid, established guys like him should be leading the charge for the 'artists' of the game industry to become more independent. Instead, he just cashed out.

Oh Sid, why oh why? Did they offer you that much cash?

Well that's that for Firaxis and probably Civ too.


Good for Sid (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984012)

First off, Take Two isn't that bad. Its reputation as a publisher is fairly clean.

Second, Sid did not sell himself into slavery. Sid sold his company. Sid could very well create ANOTHER startup, make another awesome game, then get bought up again, each time pocketing a pile of cash. So long as Sid kicks out some kick ass games, good for him. That guy deserves a big firgging pile of money. Sid just lined his pockets, lined the pockets of Fraxis, and can still merrily jump ship if he wants to. It seems like win win for everyone.

Re:Good for Sid (1)

thundar2000 (459149) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984599)

Take Two is clean just because they are flush with cash. They can afford to be okay to developers. Wait til things go bad. And yes, nothing lasts forever, as soon as GTA has runs its course, and they have blown all the GTA money on failed games... Firaxis and other acquired developers will be the first to feel the pain.

And yes, Sid sold his company. He sold out everyone who works there. He should of remained independent and used his clout to show how you can remain independent.

Re:Good for Sid (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984672)

Why should he have? To prove a point to the man for you? Maybe he's not interested in that. Maybe he doesn't want to deal with all of that stuff anymore.

He didn't sell out his employees. He's not some outside CEO who wrecked a company and then snuck out with a boatload of cash. He's built firaxis through his own hard work, and if he thinks this is the best move for either the company or himself, he should rightfully feel free to do it. And if his employees don't like it, they're free to leave.

Businesses being businesses is not necessarily evil.

Re:Good for Sid (1)

thundar2000 (459149) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985223)

>Why should he have?

By remaining independent, he could of made better games, plus, made more money in the end.

>Maybe he doesn't want to deal with all of that stuff anymore.

If you want to make great games, you have to deal with that stuff.

>He didn't sell out his employees.

Yeah, he did. Instead of working for an independent company, they now work for a very large bloated publisher that will be in bad shape when GTA runs out of steam.

>He's built firaxis through his own hard work, and if he thinks this is the best move for either the company or himself, he should rightfully feel free to do it.

He's free to do that. And I'm free to critize his move. Too many guys with the clout to make something independent of the system, and prove that you can make money now, run a great business and make great games without a big publisher... well these guys who can do that just aren't doing it.

So I was sad to hear that Sid cashed in his chips instead of taking his company the other way - to make it more independent.

> Businesses being businesses is not necessarily evil.

Agreed. But people are. And guys who sell their development companies to big publishers are not evil, but definitely just plain ol' greedy. Nothing wrong with that of course, but you can't give me the it is just good for business crap, Sid just cashed out and his company and his employees and his games will be worse in the end.

Re:Good for Sid (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 8 years ago | (#13991894)

And yes, Sid sold his company. He sold out everyone who works there.

What on earth makes you think that the people who worked there didn't have equity in the company? On the contrary, everyone might have just gotten a massive bonus and spent the day they learned the news drinking Champaign. I worked for a startup company at one time and can tell you that everyone there was dying to be bought out because a large fraction of our pay was in equity.

More to the point, this hasn't slashed anyone's independence. If Take Two decides it wants to do something evil to Fraxis, I imagine Sid will pack his bags, start a new company, and probably take every person of value from Fraxis with him. There isn't a thing in the world to prevent Sid from simply leaving the company he is working at and taking the best and brightest with him. Hell, he has done it once already.

Take Two didn't buy slaves. Take Two bought a company name, some titles, and an already formed programming and design team. Take Two keeps the company name and the titles, but those are the least valuable parts of Fraxis. What makes Fraxis valuable are the members of Fraxis and Sid. Those people can leave at any time. Knowing Sid's reputation, he probably will not hesitate much to loot Take Two of all of the REAL valuables that Fraxis has if Take Two fucks up.

I think you are confused at who is at whose mercy. Take Two is at the mercy of Fraxis, not the other way around. Take Two owns a few names. Sid owns the people through loyalty and leadership. The people are what are valuable, and they can be taken away the second Take Two fucks up. If that happens, it means that Take Two wasted a pile of cash for some titles. Take Two is the one that stands to lose, not the workers.

Genius... (1)

biodeo (741781) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984265)

"and somehow negatively impact future titles that spring from Sid Meier's genius."

Yea, making a run of the mill pirate game that didn't acually let you be a pirate was such a great idea. Wouldent a pirate dancing with a woman be the rough equivilant of an oil CEO paying his taxes?

Gah (2, Insightful)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984646)

For people who've been watching the Civ IV release with interest (anyone who paid money for it probably is), this is clearly another bad thing.

For people who don't know, Civ IV, while mechanically a great game, was rushed out of the door unfinished. I would suggest that the *majority* of people who bought it had technical difficulties with the game, from rendering, XML, ATI initialisation, crash to desktop, restarts, bluescreens and all manner of other problems (just take a look at the forums at Civfanatics to see).

The reason for this is, presumably, that Take 2 forced Firaxis to release the game in an unfinished state.

Take 2 aren't offering any support for the product apart from rumours that a support person once said there may be a patch released. They're not answering emails and the telephone support is quite bad as the call center staff don't have much information.

Take 2 directly owning Firaxis now means that this kind of shoddiness is now something we should expect in future.

Re:Gah (1)

great throwdini (118430) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986189)

For people who don't know, Civ IV, while mechanically a great game, was rushed out of the door unfinished. I would suggest that the *majority* of people who bought it had technical difficulties with the game...

Don't know about you, but the last three Meier-branded titles (Civ II - MicroProse, SMAC - Firaxis, Civ III - Firaxis) I owned all came out of the gate in a similar state: promising but buggy with an air of being rushed. I'm not so sure Take 2 really made things any worse in terms of game development. Can't speak to Pirates!, but the Firaxis crew has a knack for releasing undercooked titles. The technical difficulties quite a few are encountering probably has more to do with coupling the franchise to a new graphic engine and all its scalable 3D goodness than anything else.

Re:Gah (1)

Maserati (8679) | more than 8 years ago | (#13986291)

Oh, it'll be patched. Everything is. Take 2 can't afford to piss that many people off. They would like to sell another game or two someday.

But it sounds like I may need the "wait for a couple patches, then demo a warez copy" (did pay for Civ III done that way) technique for this one.

If it's negative, Sid will leave (1)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 8 years ago | (#13984942)

Sid has left companies before, and I'm sure if things get too far out of control, he'll drop off, regroup, and start over. I wouldn't worry too much. The worst that will happen will be some crap games in the interim.

Another Possible Scenario... (2, Interesting)

Song for the Deaf (608030) | more than 8 years ago | (#13985038)

What if the folks at Take Two are huge fans of Sid Meier and merely want to pump enough cash into his company to help him make the game he really wants to make?

Games are getting expensive to make these days, and a competitive, next-gen experience is even more expensive. Besides, some folks like to concentrate on creating things and leave business to the business folks.

So while were all speculating on shit we know nothing about, I'll do a little speculation of my own: what if Take 2 will pay for the development of a fully 3D, full featured Alpha Centari 2 with 30 times more content and the greatest, most intuitive interface ever seen in a strategy game?

Can't do that without cash, folks.

Hasn't hurt Will Wright (1)

shoptroll (544006) | more than 8 years ago | (#13989278)

Look at it this way... Maxis sold out to EA and got The Sims greenlighted, which is a tremendous step up to everything they did while they were a publicly traded company.

Downside of that was the 6 months release schedule of 7 Sims expansions, followed by a sequel and more expansions... in typical EA fashion.

The nice thing about being acquired is that they are not pressured to produce and publish x number of titles per year (if you read anything about the times when Maxis was publicly traded, this was the case). Right now Maxis is doing about one major title every two years and then supplies expansions on an ~6 month release cycle. The benefit is that the lead designer can be off loaded to create fresh titles while an auxilary team works on the expansions (read content development). Same thing applies to sequels. Will Wright had little to do with the design of SimCity 4 since all the design was done with the original SimCity. I think the same might be true with Sims 2.

If T2 works the same way as EA, the worst that'll happen is that there will be several EPs for Civ 4. Then again, Civ 3 had at least two expansions, so I wouldn't be surprised if a few get released. On the flip side, this should give Meier and other creatives at Firaxis the opportunity to create something fresh for a change.

All in all, I don't think it should be a problem for Firaxis. As long as they can bring money in for T2, there's no reason my T2 should mess with them.

Hot Civ? (1)

lazarus2004 (918422) | more than 8 years ago | (#13993644)

Does this mean we can expect a turn-based sex minigame to be available if we make small adjustments to the game?
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