Gaming Roundup: Take-Two/Rockstar; Shidonni; Verbinski’s Films; Insider Trading


image*Take-Two* retains Rockstar talent: Long live GTA. Take-Two (NSDQ: TTWO) has signed new compensation deals with key creatives from Rockstar Games, with terms that will keep the minds behind the Grand Theft Auto franchise with the publisher until at least 2012. The previous contracts were set to expire in 2009. Rockstar is not Take-Two’s only label (it also owns 2K Games, among others), but GTA has been the company’s best-selling franchise, so losing the creative team behind it would be a death blow. As part of the new terms, Rockstar co-founders Sam and Dan Houser, producer Leslie Benzies and others will now get a cut of the profits from future game sales, and Take-Two has also agreed to fund development of a new label headed up by various Rockstar staff. Release.

More after the jump.

Shidonni brings kids’ drawings to (virtual) life: Newly launched Shidonni is a hybrid virtual world/game site for kids that lets them bring their drawings to life. Kids can draw animals and other objects, as well as the backgrounds for them to play in; and then Shidonni’s software makes the creations move. VentureBeat notes that Shidonni runs on Microsoft’s Silverlight — which is interesting, since most mainstream casual game sites are powered by Adobe’s Flash. There’s a $5.95/month premium subscription that lets kids add extra accessories and details to their drawings, but they can also play for free. Founded in 2007, the Israel-based startup is backed by $1.5 million in funding from British investors.

Universal, Gore Verbinski working on gaming films: Writer/director Gore Verbinski (credits include The Ring and Pirates of the Caribbean, among others) has teamed up with Universal Pictures for a pair of game-based films. Gamasutra says he’s developing an as-yet-unnamed flick about a Second Life player who gets so engrossed in the world that he winds up having a virtual affair. The story is based on a 2007 WSJ article detailing the effects that virtual worlds have on the real lives of players. The other film will be based on 2K Games’ water-logged thriller Bioshock.

EA/Take-Two bid nets investment crooks $250K: The SEC has broken up an insider trading ring with ties to EA’s failed bid for Take-Two earlier this year. The offenders made $250,000 from trades made before EA’s $2 billion bid for the smaller publisher was publicly announced, MediaMemo reports. The investigation found that a former Lehman Brothers broker gained info about various deals through his wife, who worked for a PR firm that specializes in M&A work. (The wife hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing). Illegal trades from the 13 deals netted the ring about $4.8 million.

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