Vivendi establishes new games unit

Vivendi Universal Publishing has a new development studio that will publish PC and console-based interactive games, the company said Tuesday.

The new studio, Black Label Games Inc., will develop new game software for Vivendi Universal Games, a division of Vivendi Universal Publishing. Its games will be rated for the "teen-to-mature" player, Ken Cron, chief executive officer of Vivendi Universal Games, said in a press release. It aims to create games that satisfy the appetite among that audience for increasingly sophisticated content, Cron said.

Among the first titles due under Black Label Games are The Thing, an action and horror survival game that is derived from 1982 film of the same name; The Lord of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring; and Enclave, a third-person action RPG from Conspiracy Entertainment for Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox.

Black Label Games joins other Vivendi game studios, including Blizzard Entertainment of Irvine, California; Sierra Entertainment of Bellevue, Washington; and Universal Interactive of Universal City, California. The games these studios produce include Diablo II, the Lord of the Rings (for Microsoft's Xbox) and the online game Battle.net.

The new studio will develop titles based on original intellectual properties, as well as content licensed from external strategic partners, Vivendi's release said.

Last week a report in the Wall Street Journal said the company's parent, Vivendi Universal SA in Paris, was considering selling the publishing unit. Representatives of the French-American parent declined to comment on the report. The company is currently carrying a debt load of €19 billion.

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Gretel Johnston

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