BURBANK, Calif. (April 19, 2005) – Buena Vista Games, Inc. (BVG), the interactive entertainment arm of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), today announced two major business deals to strengthen the company’s internal game development capabilities and further its goals of becoming a top tier publisher of handheld and console games. The deals include the acquisition of acclaimed Salt Lake City-based video game developer, Avalanche Software LC and the establishment of a start-up development studio in Vancouver, Canada, led by former Electronic Arts Canada senior development and business staff.
“The acquisition of Avalanche Software and the creation of a development studio in Vancouver mark a significant milestone in becoming a top tier video game publisher by securing the industry’s top talent to build and create game franchises,” said Graham Hopper, senior vice president and general manager, Buena Vista Games. “Avalanche Software has a proven track record of creating high quality console games based on its own compelling content and some of the industry’s top brands, and is a perfect fit for our Disney-based franchises. The new studio in Vancouver is already off to a strong start and growing rapidly to focus on cutting-edge, action oriented core-gamer content and will be led by a veteran management team formerly of Electronic Arts.“
Founded in 1995, Avalanche Software employs more than 100 artists and programmers and game designers who specialize in creating high quality video games for consoles. The company has a long list of video game credits that include the million plus unit-selling Tak and the Power of Juju, Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams, Dragonball Z Sagas: Evolution, and the upcoming 25 to Life console online multiplayer shooter. Avalanche Software is currently developing BVG’s own Disney’s Chicken Little video games, based on Walt Disney Pictures upcoming 3D animated feature film that premieres this November.
“It is a true honor for Avalanche Software to become a part of the greatest entertainment company of our time,” said John Blackburn, president of Avalanche Software. “Our employees are delighted to join the BVG family, and look forward to helping the company reach new heights in the video game industry by creating great family-friendly games that everyone can play.“
Under the terms of the agreement, Avalanche Software will operate as a division of BVG and will maintain their development studio in Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition, certain of Avalanche Software’s senior management and key employees have signed long-term employment agreements with BVG.
BVG’s studio in Vancouver, Canada will focus on developing innovative action/adventure games for the major video game consoles including upcoming next-generation platforms. The studio is founded by a veteran game development team, with a successful track record of producing hit franchise product for Electronic Arts, Inc. The studio will focus on developing original intellectual property, as well as key BVG-owned content for the older core gamer consumer.
“BVG recognized that Vancouver is an important hub for video game development talent. The ability to create an independent development team focused on making great action games was very attractive to the team,” said Josh Holmes, vice president and studio general manager. “The new studio has the best of both worlds – a great entrepreneurial spirit to foster the development of original intellectual property, while having the financial security of being funded by the world’s largest entertainment company.“
BVG’s new development studio is based in Vancouver, Canada and operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of BVG. The studio founders are Josh Holmes, Howard Donaldson, Daryl Anselmo, and Jorge Freitas. Holmes, Anselmo and Freitas are all expert video game developers who were instrumental in creating the NBA Street and Def Jam franchises for Electronic Arts and have worked on multiple high profile franchises throughout their careers. Donaldson formerly served as EA Canada’s Chief Financial Officer for seven years overseeing the company’s successful growth and was an integral member of the executive team. The Vancouver studio has already assembled a high-caliber group of more than 20 talented, veteran game developers and is continuing to grow and establish their core team.