Reliance Big Entertainment acquires 50% of UK's Codemasters

MUMBAI: Reliance Big Entertainment (RBEL), part of the Reliance ADA group, has acquired a 50 per cent stake in the British video games developer and publisher company Codemasters for an undisclosed amount.

Balderton Capital, the European venture capital firm, holds the remaining 50 per cent in the games company behind Lord of the Rings Online, Colin McRae Rally and Formula One.

Zapak Digital Entertainment, the gaming division of RBEL, will oversee the investment in Codemasters.

With this acquisition, Zapak will get an international foothold in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Benelux.

Says Zapak CEO Rohit Sharma, "We are excited to partner with Codemasters and believe its very strong technology, development and distribution presence will complement our global gaming portfolio. Additionally, Zapak‘s global strength in mobile gaming will enhance Codemasters‘ ability to fully leverage its attractive franchises such as its racing and cricket games."

Adds Codemasters CEO Rod Cousens, "The opportunities arising from this partnership are truly exciting. This is great news for our development and publishing teams. Reliance and Zapak have immense resources and will help us realise the full potential of our game coding and online excellence across so many platforms, and especially in the world‘s fastest growing markets."
Codemasters, a 21-year-old company, has annual revenues in excess of $150 million and has franchises in cricket games (The Ashes), racing games (Formula 1, Dirt2 and Race Driver Grid), performance games (Dance Factory) and military simulations (Operation Flashpoint 2). It employees over 450 people worldwide.

Zapak is one of the largest gaming companies in India, with interests in online casual games, massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) publishing, chain of gaming cafes and physical distribution of gaming software.

Zapak also controls Jump Games, an international mobile game development and publishing company with global distribution across Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.

Zapak works closely with most of the leading global gaming and entertainment players such as EA, Microsoft, Valve, Popcap, Boonty, Payfirst, Disney, Universal Studioa, Shanda, Jagex, Cartoon Network, THQ, iPlay and Hands-On. 
Indian gaming companies are trying to build scale and grow inorganically as they covet a footprint outside India in the main consumption markets of the world.

Two years back, UTV Software Communications had made investments in Ignition (console games), True Games (online games) and Indiagames (mobile games).

Says UTV Group CFO Rajeev Wagle, “This acquisition by Reliance is great news for the gaming industry. Asia is growing to be a strong player in gaming consumption and development and it is high time that Indian corporates explore this space. UTV pioneered this two years back with its acquisitions and is working on developing IP’s for each of the platforms."

UTV is set to release its first online title in the first-quarter of this fiscal and its first console title by Christmas this year, making it a global player in this space.

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