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D’Works sells vidgame arm

Studio ankling gaming biz

DreamWorks has sold its vidgame subsid, DreamWorks Interactive, in a move that suggests the studio has not found hoped-for synergies between gamemaking and filmmaking.

DreamWorks Interactive, which is a joint venture between DreamWorks and Microsoft, was acquired by vidgame giant Electronic Arts.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but through the acquisition, EA buys ownership of DreamWorks Interactive’s popular gaming titles, including World War II game “Medal of Honor” and “Lost World: Jurassic Park.”

Curiously, sale signals that DreamWorks has decided to exit the profitable $7 billion vidgame industry but is opting to jump into the less lucrative and highly competitive f/x biz, through its recent acquisition of f/x studio Pacific Data Images (“Antz”).

DreamWorks Interactive’s creative staff of 80 will join EA’s production, distribution and marketing teams in Redwood City, Calif.

DreamWorks and Microsoft founded the Los Angeles-based division in 1995 in an effort to break into vidgame biz. Other than “Small Soldiers” and licensed title “Goosebumps: Escape From Horrorland,” division has been slow to turn the studio’s pics into gaming titles.

The studio has been focusing more of its attention on its feature and television production divisions, as well as music arm, instead of interactive content. Similarly, DreamWorks has also been slow to fully capitalize on the Web, handing off its movie Web sites to outside shops, including Amazon.com to produce.

Through the purchase, EA will assume the studio’s right to make games based on future DreamWorks movies. The company is looking to make sequels based on “Honor,” which has sold 450,000 copies since being introduced late last year.

It also receives more access to more action and movie-related games as it pushes hard to ready product for Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 2 vidgame console later this year. Its current portfolio includes sports titles such as “Madden NFL” and the “SimCity” simulation franchise.

Relationship between the two companies isn’t new. EA has handled publishing duties for some of DreamWorks’ titles for the past two years, paying royalties to publish the titles.

“We have been extremely pleased with the working relationship that has developed over the past two years with Electronic Arts,” said DreamWorks co-founder Steven Spielberg. “EA brings world-class production processes, strong global distribution and an unmatched marketing infrastructure to add to DreamWorks Interactive’s top-notch creative talent.”

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