Friday, December 14, 2007

Animation/Game Studio mergers, and Subscription Software

Man this past week or two, there has been a LOT of news about buyouts/mergers etc of Animation and Games Studios. Pretty interesting stuff, and it's obviously always good to stay in the know of what's happening in the industry around you.

One major news item this week was "Rainmaker Post and Rainmaker Visual Effects to be Acquired by Deluxe", the subheading for this article was "Deluxe to Establish a Major Presence in Vancouver; Rainmaker Animation Remains a Rainmaker Entertainment Company." So interestingly Rainmaker is selling off the VFX group in London, England and the Post group, but maintaining control of Rainmaker Animation (in Vancouver.) Another thing I didn't realize is that Rainmaker acquired Mainframe Entertainment, which (according to their website), makes Rainmaker Animation the largest Canadian Animation studio. Interesting stuff. The news articles say that the main reason Rainmaker is selling off the Post and VFX divisions is so they can focus on Animation. Presumably they want to increase their affect on Canadian animation, and looks like they have been doing some cool stuff recently like the MTV Video Awards graphics. Cool stuff.

The other insanely huge news is that Blizzard and Activision merged last week... the combined company value is around $19 Billion dollars?!??!! Man that is huge. Games are really making a big push lately, and brilliant strategies like World of Warcraft (1. Make a really good game, 2. Get people to pay for it, 3. Get people to pay a MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION FEE for it, and 4. Keep selling add-on packs that people want)... seems to have been a major turning point for Blizzard and for games profitability in general. The idea of a monthly subscription was thrown around at some Microsoft talks I heard, and they wanted to charge a yearly fee for Microsoft Office, and you'd essentially be "renting" the software and would have to pay to keep it. In theory that's sort of the same idea as Blizzard pulled off for World of Warcraft, but I don't really think there is any way consumers would go for it. I think I even heard talk once about making Windows itself a subscription service. With Open-Source alternatives like Linux (and Linux-based systems like Mac OSX), there are enough alternatives now for people to get fed up with Microsoft Products and give up on them all together - and that's obviously not Microsoft's goal with the subscription product service model. I can see how they want to do what Blizzard is doing (who wouldn't) but the idea of charging for software that you can get for free elsewhere (or something comparable to it), or for your Operating System seems a bit far-fetched. Anyway, just my 2 cents.

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