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THQ's family games legacy "second to none," says DreamWorks

DreamWorks Animation's new partnership with THQ is a great opportunity, but company values its relationship with Activision

Two weeks ago, THQ announced that it had secured the publishing rights to videogames based upon the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film tentatively titled "Master Mind."

The news was unusual in that Activision has a long-term licensing agreement with DreamWorks Animation, prompting some to wonder if the movie studio would be seeking a new partner when Activision's deal ends in 2010.

Rick Rekedal, head of licensing and interactive for DreamWorks Animation, recently let us know that the company still has a great relationship with Activision.

"We did announce the single property deal - working title of "Master Mind" - with THQ in that press release, but we still have an ongoing relationship with Activision for the properties they have in their deal with us currently," he told GamesIndustry.biz.

"I know that they've been very supportive of the launch of Kung Fu Panda that's coming up in the next couple of weeks."

Activision did not give DreamWorks any indication that they would not be interested in pursuing future properties after their current deal expires, according to Rekedal.

The company will release games based upon Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar: Back 2 Africa and Monsters vs. Aliens this fiscal year under the current arrangement. Activision also has the rights to release games based upon two of three DreamWorks Animation films scheduled for 2010 - How To Train Your Dragon and Shrek Goes Forth.

"Master Mind" is the only upcoming film not covered under Activision's deal.

"When we did that deal with Activision, we sold them the rights to those properties that we were able to identify three or four years ago. We couldn't see beyond the calendar that we had at the time," Rekedal said.

"By the same token, now, when "Master Mind" came available for us to license - again, we can't see beyond it either right now.

"Ideally, if we had been able to talk about a list of properties, more than just one at a time, then maybe that conversation would have been different."

Nevertheless, DreamWorks isn't bothered by Activision's decision not to license "Master Mind" as a single property deal.

" We have to balance, obviously, the timing of when to sell a property and when to bring a partner on board with the kind of deal we can structure, and we are very happy with the guys at THQ coming in."

"Their track record in this area...I tell you, their legacy with family games is second to none."

Because Activision's licensing deal includes the rights to sequels that might get made on properties they already have, there is a good chance that it will extend well beyond 2010. A rumoured Puss in Boots film, for example, could be covered under Activision's rights to Shrek sequels.

DreamWorks Animation isn't currently in negotiations with any other potential partners for the videogame licensing rights to its film properties, but Rekedal does note that the company maintains good relationships with everybody.

"We don't really have any properties beyond the ones at the end of 2010 that are available to pitch for licenses yet. As soon as we have those available to pitch for licenses, then for sure - we would definitely talk to all the key partners we have and all the major players in the industry."

"In terms of having a great partnership with Activision on the titles we have, and also trying a new partnership with THQ on "Master Mind," we think it is a great opportunity for us," Rekedal said.

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Mark Androvich

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