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Warner Bros buys MMO maker Turbine

Lord of the Rings Online dev acquired as Warner looks to online expansion

Massively multiplayer online (MMO) game developer Turbine Inc has been acquired by Warner Bros Home Entertainment Group (WBHEG), for an undisclosed sum.

Founded in Boston in 1994, Turbine was the largest privately-held online games studio in North America. The company's first title was the influential Asheron's Call in 1999 and its subsequent sequel.

The studio has since gone on to create Dungeon & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online. The latter appears to have been a key part of Warner's interest in the company, as the only game rights not previously owned by the publisher were for MMOs based on Tolkien's books.

Warner has also emphasised Turbine's proprietary digital publishing platform, online merchandising and e-commerce functionality. Turbine's integration of both bespoke and external social networks has also been highlighted by their new owner.

"Turbine is recognised globally for its industry-leading technology, groundbreaking graphics and its unique ability to create and operate massive and persistent online worlds which greatly enhance players' social gaming experiences," said Martin Tremblay, president of Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment.

"We have been looking to expand access to our online worlds to more players and more markets," said Jim Crowley, president and CEO of Turbine. "This acquisition is very exciting because it allows us to expand globally while continuing to focus on creating spectacular online games that our loyal fans and players have come to expect."

Warner has seen rapid expansion as a games publisher in recent years, acquiring Lego Star Wars makers TT Games in 2007, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance developer Snowblind Studios and various Midway assets (including the Mortal Kombat franchise) in 2009 and in 2010 Batman: Arkham Asylum developer Rocksteady Studios.

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