Media giant Warner Bros has announced its intention to become a major player in the games market, with the foundation of a new Interactive Entertainment division representing a move away from its current licensing model.
Although many Warner franchises have proved successful as videogames in the past The Matrix and Harry Potter being recent examples the company wishes to bring the development and publishing process in-house, rather than continuing to farm its licenses out to others.
The company has appointed Jason Hall, who was previously CEO of Monolith Productions, to head up the new division, with the job title of Senior Vice President, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment. Hall co-founded Monolith, which is involved in both game development and game engine licensing, in 1994; the studio is currently working on The Matrix Online, a massively multiplayer game for Ubisoft based on Warner Bros license.
"Historically, gaming for the studio has been licensing driven," explained Warner Bros Worldwide Consumer Products president Dan Romanelli, to whom Hall will report (along with Corporate Business Development and Strategy executive VP Kevin Tsujihara). "We have developed relationships with the best interactive gaming partners in the world and, together, we have taken the license model to new levels."
"We now have the opportunity to broaden our point-of-view, diversify our business approach, bring added value to our partners that will increase our mutual successes and with Warner Bros Games create a brand with consumers in the gaming world that is synonymous with the excellence behind the Warner Bros Shield."
Romanelli's comments seem to suggest that the company will be seeking to strengthen its relationships with existing industry partners such as Electronic Arts (publisher of the Harry Potter titles), Atari (publisher of Enter the Matrix) and the many developers who work on Warner properties. However, it's likely that the company's new focus will see it taking increasing levels of control over the development and publishing of titles based on its franchises.
Speaking with US website GameSpot today, Jason Hall stated that Warners is "dead serious" about this new initiative, and hinted that the company may well seek to acquire some existing game developers as well as building up in-house development studios. "We want Warner Bros to be the leader and to take a controlling and influential position within the game industry," he commented.