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Report: MTV Games To Publish SpongeBob, Nickelodeon Properties?

MTV Games is publishing SpongeBob and the Nicktoons GravJet on Xbox Live Arcade -- the first self-published MTV/Nick game on that platform, and raising questions about the future of its deal with THQ. [UPDATE: Nickelodeon confirms XBLA self-
According to a German ratings listing, MTV Games is set to publish SpongeBob and the Nicktoons GravJet on Xbox Live Arcade -- making it the first self-published Nickelodeon property game on that platform, and raising questions about the future of its deal with THQ. Viacom, however, owns both Nickelodeon and MTV Games. The latter, with the addition of Harmonix to its catalog, has published only Rock Band titles on consoles to date. But a listing for the German software ratings board revealing the SpongeBob game suggests Viacom can take at least some Nickelodeon tie-ins back under its belt. The original listing did not indicate whether the new title is a full console release or an Xbox Live Arcade downloadable, but Gamasutra sister site GamerBytes, which specializes in the console digital download space, points out that the lack of a pre-announcement often means that a game is slated for digital platforms. [UPDATE: A spokesperson for Nickelodeon commented to Gamasutra: "It is correctly mentioned that we are self-publishing this title for the XBLA platform, and that it is the first [MTV/Nickelodeon] self-published title for SpongeBob on XBLA." "But it's not the first time the Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group has published a SpongeBob game outside of THQ (we've published for online, iPhone and some other platforms without THQ before)."] Nonetheless, according to a 2004 Gamasutra news story, THQ's license with Nickelodeon was originally signed to run until 2010. With only 3 months left in 2009, and a THQ-published Xbox Live Arcade title, SpongeBob Squarepants: Underpants Slam, debuting back in 2007, it appears that some element of the licensing has changed to allow Nickelodeon to self-publish SpongeBob for console digital download. Gamasutra has contacted other relevant parties for further information on what this could mean for the SpongeBob license -- a prominent part of THQ's licensed products portfolio -- and will update with any further info we receive.

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