Formed from The Collective, Backbone, Pipeworks, Digital Eclipse and ImaginEngine last year, Foundation 9 Entertainment (F9E) already has over 400 developers working in sites such as Vancouver, Los Angeles and Boston (see below for the full complement). At E3, the company had more titles on the show floor than any other independent, with some 20 games on show at stands for almost every major publisher, including Sega, 2K, and Konami.
The company’s strengths, however, have been very much US-specific, and with its promised $150m over the next few years, CEO Jon Goldman says it’s time to grow the company – with the possible stretching of F9E’s wings to acquiring studios around the globe one of the objectives on his ‘to do’ list.
“We are of course interested in acquisitions in the US,” he explained, but added: “We have a lot of contacts and friends in the UK so we’re definitely interested in acquisitions there. If we were to make acquisitions in Europe we’d want to do it in regions for management reasons rather than just have outposts.”
But any purchase won’t be part of a desire for sheer scale: “It’s not a gobble up everything in sight approach,” said Goldman “We’ll look at companies with good technology and also companies from the standpoint of profitability and what’s good about their business that can grow our business.”
Specifically, however, he says Foundation 9 needs to fill a few genre-shaped holes in its vast portfolio. Across the nine studios and six development brands it has, the company has third-person action (The Collective’s Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Mark Ecko’s Getting Up), kids titles, handheld, PC value and even TV Plug ‘n’ Play categories sown up. A number of next-gen games are in the works (including Dirty Harry for Warner Bros.) and it produced Midway’s Xbox Live Arcade titles. It also has a clear segment of its business focused on developing original IP (such as Backbone’s Death Jr.) which can be “commercialised” (Goldman’s words) across other entertainment areas such as action figures, comics and non-interactive media. Subsequenly, F9E also has a stake in Hollywood talent company Circle of Confusion.
“I’m very interested in the casual side of MMO – we’re active in a very small way in mobile and we’d be interested in an acquisition in that area,” said Goldman.
“Sports, driving, first person shooters – there are a number of areas where partners could augment our business.”