THQ buys Melbourne games developer Blue Tongue

By Sarah Stokely

From The Beer Files, 18 November 2004
http://www.beerfiles.com.au/content/view/328/43/

Melbourne-based computer game developer, Blue Tongue Entertainment has been acquired by American games publisher and developer THQ. The purchase of privately owned Blue Tongue was for “a six figure” sum, according to THQ’s vice president of product development for Asia Pacific, Steve Dauterman.

NASDAQ listed THQ, which has a market cap of more than US$800 million, plans to take on board all of Blue Tongue’s staff, which is around 45 people, said Dauterman. “We don’t plan on changing anything,” he said. Blue Tongue, best known for its work on the Starship Troopers and Jurassic Park games, would continue to develop two cross-platform releases slated for release in late 2005, he said.

Blue Tongue had been working on THQ projects for about 14 months, which led to the acquisition decision, said Dauterman. Blue Tongue was founded in 1995, and has developed games for PS2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube.

The acquisition doubles THQ’s Australian employee base. But the company wasn’t planning on amalgamating Blue Tongue with its current Brisbane operation, said Dauterman. It intends to keep its 45-strong development team in Brisbane working on separate projects.

“Brisbane and Melbourne have become the two centres of game development in Australia and it allows us to share resources and technology between the teams,” said Dauterman. The ability to draw on a pool of talent from both cities was also a drawcard, as THQ hoped to hire another 50 developers for its Australian business over the next three years, said the THQ vice president.

The most recent joint venture between THQ and Blue Tongue hit game stores last week. The jointly-developed Polar Express game was released last week for the PC, PS2, and Nintendo GameCube platforms.

THQ would “keep its eyes and ears open” for further Australian investment opportunities, although nothing specific was on the horizon, said Dauterman. THQ also has development teams in the US, Canada and the UK.

The Victorian Government’s history of support and incentives for the games industry had been another reason to maintain a presence in Melbourne, said Dauterman. Blue Tongue has received financial support from a number of government projects and grants including the Multimedia Victoria project, and the Trade Fairs and Missions program, said Blue Tongue’s chief operating officer Andrew Heath.

“We have a fantastic relationship with the State Government and Melbourne City Council, said Heath. “They recognise the positive environment we’ve created in terms of job creation and general innovation.”

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