Representatives from British developer Warthog have revealed that the company has sold all of its subsidiaries, intellectual properties and assets to portable console manufacturer Gizmondo Europe. The deal was announced this morning and concluded quickly, without seeking approval from Warthog’s shareholders.
The subsidiaries include what was Sourcery Developments Ltd., Infogrames’ Manchester development studio and Zed Two - all based in the UK. This is in addition to 42-Bit AB in Sweden and Texas based developer Fever Pitch. Some of Warthog's notable previously-developed titles include Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter
, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
, and Battlestar Galactica
Gizmondo Europe's U.S.-based parent company, Tiger Telematics, paid $8.1 million for the deal, as well as taking on all of their debts to the firm. The payment was made with $1.13 million in cash and 497,866 shares in Tiger Telematics stock. As part of the deal Warthog executive directors Ashley Hall, Steven Law and Simon Elms will all take up senior roles at Tiger Telematics.
The purchase has apparently been made to ensure a steady stream of first party titles for the Gizmondo portable console, since twelve of Warthog's titles will be immediately added to the Gizmondo's portfolio. The purchase will also give the company access to Warthog's proprietary game engine portal tool, named Tusk.
The Gizmondo console was launched in the UK on Friday, with a dedicated Gizmondo store being planned on London’s famous Carnaby Street for the Christmas period.
Although the idea of launching a new portable console in such a crowded market, and from such a low profile company, appears peculiar, Europe will not see either the Nintendo DS or PlayStation Portable until well into next year. If Gizmondo can find a place for itself before that time it may well have a chance, although it still faces fierce competition from the Game Boy Advance, N-Gage and newly launched Zodiac.
As for Warthog, the company has been facing increasing financial difficulties over recent months, notably when the company’s 2003 financial results revealed a 50 percent drop in revenues and a pre-tax loss of £9.2 million ($16.8m).
At that time the company announced it would create a number of original IPs, including Johnny Whatever
, to counter the loss of third party business. It is now unclear what will happen to these projects on formats other than the Gizmondo.