We recently ruminated on some of the game studios Microsoft might be interested in buying to strengthen its first-party game output. But right now it's Ubisoft (which was on our hypothetical Microsoft shopping list) that's actually making the moves. Earlier this week Ubi revealed that it had acquired mobile developer 1492 Studio, and today it announced that Blue Mammoth Games, developer of the free-to-play fighting game Brawlhalla, is now parked in its garage.
"The team at Blue Mammoth Games is expert at developing and running scalable, competitive, multiplayer online games, and they'll be a great addition to Ubisoft's network of studios," Ubisoft NCSA president Laurent Detoc said. "With Brawlhalla, we're getting a hugely popular and highly-profitable title that aligns with our strategy of expanding our audience and providing players with long-lasting, entertaining gaming experiences."
It's a bold strategy, Cotton, but glassy-eyed corporate-speak notwithstanding, it's pretty much on the money. Brawlhalla came out in October 2017 and its average concurrent player count has actually been climbing, slowly but surely, since then. Being free to play obviously helps keep that number up, but it's also a really good game—good enough for inclusion on our recent list of best local multiplayer games. Blue Mammoth seems pleased with the arrangement, too.
"The list of ways this is good for Brawlhalla is so long, I literally don’t know where to start. We have some power in our corner now; we’re now backed by a big ten publisher known for many of the best and most creative games out there," co-founder Matt Woomer wrote in a separate announcement. The studio will grow he said, but only slowly, and Brawlhalla will continue to be developed.
"One thing goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: We’ve worked very hard over the last three years to earn your trust that Brawlhalla will be always free to play and never pay to win. None of that will ever change. Ubisoft shares that philosophy, and that’s another reason we agreed to this partnership."
The 1492 Studio acquisition is less directly relevant to us since it's a mobile outfit, but that could change under Ubisoft's direction: The Is It Love? series of "interactive stories" is one of the top-five grossing "mobile simulation games" in France, where the studio is based, and one of the top 20 in the US. Given the small but strong (and growing) market for visual novels on Steam, I wouldn't be surprised to see Peter, Ryan, Colin, and the rest of the French sexy-men make their way to PC at some point in the future.