Warner Bros. Buys Online Game Firm Turbine

Time (NYSE: TWX) Warner’s Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group is buying Turbine Inc., the heavily-backed massively-mulitplayer online gaming company. Financial details weren’t released, although The Boston Globe puts the sale price at $160 million, including earn-outs. Turbine had raised more than $88 million in funding from investors, including Time Warner, and as of last summer was in the midst of raising a new $50 million fourth round.

Turbine’s top title is a Lord of the Rings-branded massively multiplayer online game, and the deal gives Warner Bros., which already owned rights to Lord of the Rings-branded video games, all of the gaming rights to the Lord of the Rings franchise. (Time Warner’s New Line Cinema is also the distributor of the Lord of the Rings films).

In a statement, Warner Bros. also says it will now have “access to a proprietary digital publishing platform that enables dynamic direct-to-consumer relationships, robust online merchandising opportunities and vibrant e-commerce functionality for online games,” as well as a “social networking platform that can integrate … self-developed online communities” with third-party social networks. Both, the company says, can be applied to its other businesses.

This is Warner Bros.’ sixth major gaming acquisition. In February, it took a controlling stake in Batman game maker Rocksteady Studios. Other gaming investments have included Midway Games, Snowblind Studios, TT Games, and Monolith Productions. Snowblind, which Warner Bros. bought last year, is developing its Lord of the Rings video games franchise.