Manila-based Matahari Studios acquired by growing UK independent developer

Kuju expands to the Philippines

UK independent developer Kuju has expanded into the Asia-Pacific region by acquiring of Philippines-based Matahari Studios, Develop can reveal.

The move, which Develop understands has been in the works for some time, gives Kuju presence in Asia, development support for its San Francisco, California team, and also another global base for the fast-growing UK firm.

It opened its Californian studio earlier this year after rebranding a number of its British studios and opening new teams dedicated to kids titles and digital download games (the latter being the Develop Award 2008 Best New Studio winner Doublesix).

Now called Kuju Manila, the studio will also provide a corporate offices for the firm in Asia. At first the team there will support the work done by the seven other Kuju studios, but in the medium to long term will grow and could develop games in its own right, Jonathan Newth, president of Kuju Group told us.

(You can read our full Q&A with Newth about the deal and Kuju’s Asian expansion here.)

In the official statement confirming the move, Newth added: "The partnership between Kuju’s US studio and Matahari has already shown us that there is a great opportunity to grow our talent pool through co-operative development.

"This approach offers significant advantages over out-sourcing and involves the team in Manila working on specific areas of development as an integral part of an overall project’s creation. The Manila team has already successfully delivered code and design components as well as art & animation assets for Kuju’s US developed projects. We will be working with the team in Manila to further expand the range of development skills they can offer to Kuju’s studios."

The new general manager of Kuju Manila is Eric Marlow, who previously ran the studio for its former Australian owner, helped found the Philippines’ local IGDA chapter, and hopes the Kuju input will help further develop the otherwise nascent games development scene in the country.

“We recognised early-on the value in coming to the Philippines," said Marlow. "The strength of the local talent pool and emphasis on creativity were the primary reasons why we set up here. We are all extremely excited to be part of such a well-respected group of developers as exists within the Kuju network of studios.”

Click here to read a Q&A with Newth about the new Kuju studio

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