SEGA has acquired Football Manager developer Sports Interactive.
The North London-based developer is the publisher's largest UK developer acquisition since "Total War" developer The Creative Assembly, which became part of SEGA in March 2005.
SEGA has also announced a number of high-profile partnerships with developers including Silicon Knights, Monolith and most recently Obsidian Entertainment.
SEGA Europe and SEGA America CEO Naoya Tsurumi called Sports Interactive's headline title Football Manager "one of the most significant titles for our European line-up".
"This acquisition illustrates that we are achieving our objectives and have our strategic planning up and running. Although we still have a lot more to do, we feel that this is yet another huge step towards strengthening our standing within the European market," he said in a statement this morning.
SEGA Europe President and COO paid tribute to the company's personnel. "We acquired Sports Interactive because SEGA has the utmost respect for the Collyers, Miles Jacobson and the Sports Interactive team for what they have achieved. The company is built up of highly talented individuals that have and continue to produce award-winning titles," he said.
Miles Jacobson, Managing Director of Sports Interactive, added, "From our first meeting with SEGA, it felt like 'home'- they really understand development and it's an honour to get to work with the overwhelming pool of talent from both the development and publishing side. The partner was right for the next chapter in Sports Interactive's history, with more releases from the studio this year than ever before. Myself, Ov, Paul and the SI team are all really excited about the future."
Founded in 1994 by Paul and Oliver Collyer, Sports Interactive developed the Championship Manager series of football management titles until a split from publisher Eidos in 2004 forced it to surrender the name and rebrand as Football Manager.
The unprecedented rebranding made little difference to the firm's success, as SEGA subsequently agreed a deal to publish "Football Manager" for five years, and sold 1.5 million copies of the first two editions, 2005 and 2006.
Along with Football Manager, Sports Interactive recently expanded in other areas of the sports management genre, bringing popular independent titles NHL: Eastside Hockey Manager and Out of the Park Baseball into the fold.
As part of the deal announced to the Japanese stock exchange this morning, the company will continue to develop these three series, but will also be given the opportunity to expand into new areas.
The company's next scheduled releases are Football Manager 2006 for Xbox 360 and PSP, both of which are due out on April 13th.