Relaxing after dinner, I saw this retweet from Patience that Turbine had been acquired by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment and felt my heart sink.

Turbine has been an independent studio in the MMO space ever since they bought the rights for Asheron’s Call back from Microsoft. I’ve always felt that this gave them valuable freedom in making decisions. I very much doubt that DDO would have been given as much time to succeed as it was, and I don’t believe a large company like Warner Brothers would’ve okay-ed the F2P experiment that turned DDO around.  Now Turbine will have to answer to WB for timelines and budgets.

Still, I can’t think of anything WB has done in the gaming industry lately so my initial disappointment may be totally unwarranted, but given similar situations I’ve seen, I’m not optimistic. Mythic didn’t profit from their incorporation into EA. Blizzard has recently been drawn a bit further into the management of Activision. Cryptic/Atari have had quite a few marketing and PR goofs, and I’ve often wondered how much of that was Atari’s involvement.

Lord of the Rings Online is my home MMO, the one I always come back to (well technically I never leave, being a lifetime subscriber). More than that, it’s been a treasured opportunity to play in Tolkien’s world in a way I’m not able to through the books or movies. I’ve never been worried about Turbine doing anything to screw up their game. I don’t have the same confidence in Warner Brothers.

Doom and gloom aside, this should mean that Turbine has a lot more resources and stability, and I truly hope that this acquisition works out for the best both for the Turbine staff and the LotRO/DDO/AC player communities.  It’s probable that the first effects of this acquisition won’t be felt for several months. For now, I just have to be patient, try to keep and open mind, and try to maintain an optimistic attitude. Still, I can’t ignore my gut, and as a wise man once said, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

Some various news stories about the deal, for the curious:

Turbine acquired by Warner Bros.
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13 thoughts on “Turbine acquired by Warner Bros.

  • April 20, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Ooh, I have the same wary feeling as you regarding this. I have nothing against WB, but always when a larger entity takes over a smaller one, you run those risks.

  • April 20, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Warner Bros last big hit in gaming was Batman: Arkham Asylum.

    It looks like they mostly do tie ins to Warner Bros properties (DC universe, Terminator, Looney Toons). They’ve also just recently announced F.E.A.R. 3.

    As far as MMOs… Unless I’m missing something, the only title under their belt is The Matrix Online.

    • April 21, 2010 at 11:19 am

      Arkham Asylum was released before WB bought a majority stake in the company, so I’m not sure that quite counts. The sequel will be a better test of how hands-on WB is planning to be with its game developers.

      I’d forgotten about MXO, hmmm.

      • April 21, 2010 at 1:54 pm

        I didn’t know that about Arkham Asylum. But if that’s the case, I don’t know if MXO would count either. Monolith was working on MXO at the same time as it was doing the original F.E.A.R for Vivendi Universal when they got bought out.

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  • April 21, 2010 at 7:31 am

    No idea how this will turn out. Do not forget, Turbine was working on another IP based MMO for quite some time already. Rumors abound already.

    For LOTRO, it could mean better funding and riding to Rohan earlier.
    It could also mean some sparkly pony crap and selling a lot of stuff optional, and the marketing/management BS you mentioned already.

  • April 21, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Its probably a good thing. I like that theyll have additional funding and the fact that turbine has been a leader in successful alternative pricing structure leads me to think that this is more what WB wants from them. Its honestly Turbine’s key market strength.

    If i remember correctly though Captainruz, WB only published Matrix Online, dont think the developed it. They did impose a harsh penatly on the developer though because the game failed to garner good reviews at launch, which imo lead to less development on the game.

    • April 21, 2010 at 11:21 am

      From some of the news articles, it does seem that WB wanted Turbine for more of their back-end expertise in the MMO space but the LotR licensing is just too coincidental not to also be a big factor. WB now owns all of the rights to make Middle-earth computer games.

  • April 21, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Companies like Warner is not in it for the small potatoes; they want to fast-track into online market in various ways. Probably the tools and techniques Turbine has is more valuable to them than AC, DDO and LOTRO – used on a larger scale.

    The games will probably still be around to keep employees and keep them happy, but I doubt that they are going to invest a huge amount in those games. The market penetration for those is not big enough in itself.

  • April 21, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    That is a bit troubling, I have to say. Turbine really seems to have hit their stride in the last few years (after some serious stumbling around in the AC II, launch DDO days), and I’d hate for WB to mess with their development style. That said, all we can do is wait and see, hoping for the best.

  • April 22, 2010 at 12:15 am

    I am far too cynical to hope that this will end well. We can all hope though I suppose, it’s not like I’ve seen WB destroy an MMO before, so it might not happen.

    Good luck to them.

    • April 22, 2010 at 3:32 am

      I have to side with Amuntoth. My cynical side shines through whenever I read something like this. For a sale like this to go through, either Turbine was circling the drain or they all wanted their own money hats.

      Nonetheless, here’s hoping WB lets them continue to do what they do well.

      Oh, and I hope this helps my secret wish that a certain intellectual property will finally manifest in an MMO form. 🙂

  • May 20, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    i hope they fire everyone at turbine and get some decent people… that actually care about the WHOLE community and not just a select section.

    turbine could also use some help in the customer service field, it is horrible…

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