Atari flogs Driver to Ubisoft

Next-gen versions to follow.

Atari has agreed to sell the Driver franchise and most of developer Reflections' assets to Ubisoft in a deal worth EUR 19 million.

The move is part of Atari's streamlining plans, says CEO Bruno Bonnell, who reckons that the company will be fine with the Test Drive series headlining its racing game interests.

"We are focusing the energy of the Company on a select number of franchises in order to optimise their impact among consumers and increase shareholder value," he said in a statement marking the sale.

"In the driving category, we consider Test Drive our key franchise which will require more resources and attention to build it as a landmark of its genre."

Atari will maintain sell-off rights for all Driver games for three months, except for the most recent one, Parallel Lines, which it will retain until the end of calendar-2006.

80 members of Reflections' staff are to become employees of Ubisoft.

After seven years of games spanning two generations of console hardware and PC, along with several handheld titles, the Driver series is firmly established.

The original was critically acclaimed, but subsequent titles have failed to hit the same heights - although the series found itself back on track in its most recent instalment, which drove the game closer to Rockstar's blockbusting Grand Theft Auto series in concept.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot reckons it's a platform to build on, pointing out that more than 14 million units of Driver games have been sold so far.

"We look forward to leveraging the unique knowledge of the Ubisoft studios to ensure that Driver will be one of the leading brands of the next generation of consoles," Guillemot said.

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