Irata Labs acquired as Murdochâ??s business warms to games

Three-man indie group joins News Corp empire

A San Francisco indie game studio has been acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp media empire.

The surprise acquisition of Irata Labs comes as News Corp positions itself to expand operations into the game business – both a telling statement on the viability of the modern game business, and a warning to the publishers of today that the media giants are circling the market.

The announcement comes on the same day that Warner Bros. announced it has acquired MMO developer Turbine in what is reported to be a $160 million deal.

The LA Times reports that Irata’s biggest success to date is social-network themed outing Spymaster, which gained plenty of attention thanks to its use of Twitter. A source close to the deal told the paper:

“These guys have shown they can be mold-breakers with great product. And that’s what we care about.”

News Corp’s business is far-reaching, spread across brands such as UK newspapers The Sun and The Times, book publisher HarperCollins, US media giants The Wall Street Journal, 20th Century Fox and Fox TV network, as well as UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB and former social gaming leader MySpace.

The value of the Irata Labs buyout was not announced.

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