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Friday, Sep 22, 2023

Tech Talk

Techtalk/12″/LK1st/mark2nd Local game companies aren’t giving themselves much time to sit back and enjoy the frenzied ringing of holiday-time cash registers. Instead, they’ve launched a slew of management and strategic initiatives intended to propel them through their mercurial industry. One relative newcomer to the game world is Venice-based Digital Domain Interactive, whose recently appointed president, Debra Streicker-Fine, wants to show that her company is about much more than sinking ships. She expects the company’s digital expertise to parlay into game development, as well as into creating content for interactive digital television when or if it becomes a widespread reality. “We are moving aggressively into the game-developing market, where as one of the top digital studios we can create original properties rather than just the traditional content-for-hire that Digital Domain has been known for,” she said. Current projects include the award-winning “Barbie Fashion Designer” series and a new series of real-time, 3-D games for Lego. To help with new game technology, as well as future acquisitions, Ronald Fortier joined the company last month as executive producer of technology. Fortier, who previously worked with Streicker-Fine at Disney Interactive, is in the midst of the company’s first acquisition. No details were available about the pending deal. … Also on an M & A; kick is THQ Inc., the Calabasas-based game development and publishing company. Last week, it acquired German game publisher Rushware Microhandelsgellschaft and its subsidiaries. This announcement came on the heels of several new members joining the senior management team. One promotion went to Jeffrey Lapin, former president and chief executive of Starwood Hotels and most recently a THQ director, who stepped into the newly created position of vice chairman. Lapin specializes in M & A; work and corporate strategy. Executives indicate that more acquisitions lie ahead for the company. “We want to grow through acquiring companies that bring us more content and distribution to new markets,” said THQ President and Chief Executive Brian Farrell. “We also want to continue growing by acquiring licenses (to game properties).” THQ currently has a hit on its hands with its new Rugrats game, which is piggy-backing on the success of the animated movie now in theaters. 989 Studios is joining the new-media enclave in Santa Monica. The Foster City-based company, wholly owned by Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. and a powerhouse designer for the Sony Playstation game console, announced that it will open a new development studio in the beach community early next year. L.A.’s abundance of new-media talent is one key reason behind the company’s expansion here. “Now we can tap the really rich talent pool down there, and reach the people who may have not been interested in leaving the area,” said spokeswoman Helene Sheeler. “The expansion is positive every way around for us.” 989 Santa Monica will be headed by game veteran Allan Becker and staffed by the designers and producers of the high-selling Twisted Metal and Jet Moto series. Sara Fisher can be reached via e-mail at saramf@aol.com.

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