French publisher Infogrames has announced its results for the first half of FY 2005, revealing in the process that the firm has sold off the lucrative Civilisation franchise to an as-yet unknown purchaser.

The firm, which is the parent company of Atari Inc, announced that the rights to the property were sold after the close of the first half on September 30th for $22.3 million, which will be reflected in the balance sheet for the current quarter.

Atari has published the Civilisation franchise, which was created by renowned designer Sid Meier and is developed by Firaxis Games, since Civilisation II was launched in 1996 - with the exception of a brief sojourn with Activision for 1999's Civilisation: Call to Power.

Civilisation IV is currently in development at Firaxis games, with today's announcement meaning that the question of who will publish the game is now up in the air - although if Firaxis itself has bought the rights, as is rumoured in some quarters, it may still come out on the Atari label.

It's not yet known who has bought the franchise from the company, but the decision to sell may have been motivated by Infogrames' looming debt burden, which calls for the repayment of a 117 million Euro convertible bond next year.

News of Infogrames' first half financial performance was somewhat overshadowed by the announcement of Civilisation's sale, but was also weak - with revenues falling by some 12 per cent to 277 million Euro, and a loss of 32.8 million Euro being recorded for the six month period.

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