And ready to spend more than its budgeted $500m on development as it powers up games strategy, says MTV Networks president

MTV eyes more studio acquisitions

MTV’s president of global digital has told us that the company is prepared to acquire more studios and ramp up spending beyond the firm’s allotted $500m games budget as its interactive assault takes flight.

Speaking to Develop, MTV Networks’ Mika Salmi, said: “We’re in the enviable position of being a global leader in games, so there’s a pretty healthy mergers and acquisitions flow. We haven’t pulled the trigger on any deal, but we’re looking at things all the time. We’re definitely open to it, and the kind of consumer that we focus on. If it works with our family, music and games brand value and comes at the right price, we’d definitely be excited about it.”

The firm already owns Rock Band and Guitar Hero creator Harmonix, which it acquired for $175m in 2006. Salmi said the team was snapped up as its technical expertise provided “a platform for all kinds of businesses”.

“There’s going to be more games, more peripherals and other things coming out from [Harmonix],” he said. “That’s a very much more attractive thing for us too – if a studio has a core engine or core platform that we can leverage for many uses.”

And when it comes to the $500m he last year announced MTV would be spending on games, he revealed that the company was prepared to spend more if necessary, so seriously it is taking the drive to fully-establish the company name in the industry.

Salmi said: “It was over two years, and we’re maybe a quarter into it, so we’ve probably spent a quarter of it. A lot of that was a budgeted amount that we were planning on spending on development and marketing and really making our name in the games business. We looked at our strategy, from casual to console, to games media to virtual and calculated this big number. It’s verified internally how important it was to us – and we decided to tell people about it. It’s not like some kind of number I have on my wall here that I tick off each time we spend. It’s not set in stone. Who knows? The number could end up being much greater if we see opportunities or reason to spend more money.”

He also moved to clarify that the fund is purely for MTV to drive its internal strategy and production of games – such as the recently announced collaboration and joint games venture with Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

“I know a lot of games developers and I got so many emails and calls asking me, ‘How do I tap into this chunk?’ Some people saw it as some kind of venture fund or investment fund,” said Salmi, adding: “We’re actually going to be spending that money. I think a lot of people were a little disappointed when they realised that. We thought it was a big statement for a media company for us to make. But it wasn’t like, ‘The bank is open, come enjoy our cash.’”

Find out more about Salmi’s plans for MTV Networks in the games industry – including a possible move into publishing – in an in-depth interview with our sister site MCV.

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