Indian film and TV group UTV is buying its way to the forefront of the Indian games industry with a pair of corporate acquisitions and a production commitment totaling $60 million.
Company announced Friday that it is buying a controlling stake in Indiagames, a games developer and distributor specializing in mobile entertainment, and a substantial majority of U.K.-based console games group Ignition Entertainment.
UTV also will commit $30 million to produce three animated movies before the end of 2009.
“These deals fulfill our objective of expanding UTV into content that can be distributed across all entertainment platforms,” UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvala said.
Indiagames content is distributed in 67 countries through cell phone operators including Vodafone, Verizon and Airtel. Last year, it had revenues of $5 million.
UTV’s 51% stake in the outfit comes largely from the sale of interest by Hong Kong media conglom Tom Group. Indiagames founder Vishal Gondal will remain with the company as will other shareholders Cisco Systems and Adobe.
Ignition, where UTV is buying new shares repping 70% of the expanded equity capital, takes Japanese game formats and delivers local versions for the European Union and U.S. Separately, it develops high end console games under its own name.
It also is producing “War Devil,” a $10 million fantasy actioner exclusively for Sony’s PlayStation3. Game is expected to launch in March 2008, when 20 million PS3 consoles are expected to have hit the market.
UTV expects to see significant crossover between the two businesses and with its existing TV, film and broadcast activities.
Ignition may outsource game development to India. Indiagames will also be able to access properties sold by Ignition.
Both will add new media outlets for spinoffs including music and downloads from UTV’s movie stable and the unnamed youth TV web that group is launching in the first quarter of 2007.
“Both companies are at a very interesting stage,” Screwvala said. “Indiagames will increase its output to 100 titles per year and Ignition to 50. ‘War Devil’ will triple Ignition’s revenues in 2008 even if it only reaches break-even level.”
UTV Toons slate to 2009 will include at least three features including one untitled CGI project with Will Smith’s Overbrook; “Dream Blanket,” by “Ice Age’s” Simi Nallaseth; and an untitled pic by Arnab Chaudhury, former creative director at Turner Intl. (Asia).