Gaming Roundup: Ubisoft/Massive Entertainment; Whirled Launches; Rock Band’s $300+ Million Payout

Ubisoft gobbles up Massive Entertainment: French videogame developer and publisher Ubisoft acquired Massive Entertainment, the Swedish studio behind the World In Conflict strategy series. Ubisoft bought Massive, which employs more than 120 developers, from Activision (NSDQ: ATVI) Blizzard for an undisclosed sum. The gaming company posted a solid Q3, with sales up 37 percent year-over-year to $219 million (175 million Euros), and raised guidance for the coming quarter. The optimism hinges on the holiday releases of titles like Prince of Persia and Far Cry 2. Release.

Three Rings launches Whirled: SF-based Three Rings, developer of the Puzzle Pirates MMO has launched Whirled, a Flash-based virtual world designed to attract both teens and third-party developers. Members socialize, play casual games — and more importantly — buy things like clothing and furniture for their avatars with virtual currency. Whirled’s currency can be traded in for U.S. dollars, giving content creators an incentive; and it’s built on a set of APIs that let creators easily upload new merchandise and games.

The new world piggybacks on the success of Puzzle Pirates’ micro-currency model, which brought Three Rings $3 million worth of revenue in 2007. The company has raised a total of $5 million in VC funding, including $3.5 million in a round from True Ventures and Chance Ventures last July, and CEO Daniel James said they’d likely raise an additional round by Q2 2009. Release.

Rock Band creators earn more than $300 million: Harmonix founders Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy (creators of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises) sold their company to Viacom’s MTV for $175 million in 2006, and we dug up details of their additional earnout earlier this year. SAI’s Eric Krangel puts their bonus for 2008 at $150 million — meaning the duo has pulled in well over $300 million from the sale of their IP. And they’re not done earning. In light of the game’s success, Viacom (NYSE: VIA) said the final payment (due in 2009) “is expected to exceed this year


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