Publisher buys US firm Elephant Entertainment, signs Oberon retail deal and plans to launch 20 casual and online games in '08

THQ boosts casual games offering

Publisher THQ has grown its casual games label ValuSoft via confirming the acquisition of online games creator Elephant Entertainment and a deal with developer Oberon media to release the firm’s games at retail.

Industry veteran Wim Stocks, president and COO of Elephant, will continue to run the firm for THQ as it ramps up to launch ‘more than 20 new casual and online games on multiple platforms in 2008’. Rumours of the Elephant acquisition circulated last month.

"We are extremely excited to become a part of THQ," said Stocks. "THQ is a leader in family and casual interactive entertainment and we are excited to help further grow THQ’s portfolio and pipeline in the casual and online game market."

Meanwhile, the deal with Oberon is a worldwide retail publishing agreement that will see THQ granted exclusive boxed product rights to the developer’s games, including its new franchise based on the James Patterson Women’s Murder Club series.

"The casual games segment is booming and this deal with THQ will allow us to strengthen our industry positioning and bring more games to market," commented Don Ryan, senior vice president of publishing, Oberon Media. "Both Elephant and THQ are led by very talented teams and I look forward to working more closely with them as we move forward together."

Doug Clemmer, president of ValuSoft, added: "The addition of Elephant Entertainment and our exclusive retail publishing deal with Oberon significantly expands the depth and breadth of our casual and online game offering.

"These deals will allow us to expand our presence in this rapidly growing segment."

According to the Casual Games Association, the sector was worth $2.25bn last year and will grow 20 per cent year-on-year.

Casual is the hot topic amongst publishers and developers at the moment; EA continues to make in roads (and is planning a number of new games) with its Casual Entertainment label, while the likes of Take 2, Nintendo, Midway and Ubisoft continue to court gamers via short-session, mass-market and more social titles.

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