Warner Bros. acquires Turbine, developer of Lord of the Rings Online

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Warner Bros. has just gotten more rights to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ fantasy world.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, the video game division of the Burbank movie studio, said it has acquired Turbine Inc., a Massachusetts developer of online games.

Turbine’s specialty is in creating massively multi-player online games such as Asheron’s Call, Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. Warner acquired the movie rights to the ‘Lord of The Rings’ trilogy and ‘The Hobbit’ when it acquired New Line in 2008. Turbine’s game license fit neatly into Warner’s portfolio of licenses from the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien.


For Warner, Turbine’s expertise in building online games could come in handy should the studio want to launch online games to go with blockbuster movie releases. Another bonus: Turbine has had some success getting online players to pay for virtual goods for its Dungeons & Dragons game.

“The Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online have both been an enormous success for Turbine,’ Martin Tremblay, president of Warner Bros. Interactive, said in a statement.

Between monthly subscription fees and virtual goods, Turbine’s annual revenue last year was between $35 million and $50 million, according to a person familiar with the acquisition. This year, Turbine’s sales are expected to exceed $50 million.

The Turbine deal follows four major game company acquisitions in less than three years for Warner, which snagged a majority stake in Rocksteady Studios, developer of Batman: Arkham Asylum, in February. Last year, it bought Snowblind Studios and most of the assets of Midway Games. In 2007, Warner snapped up U.K.-based TT Games, which made Lego Batman and Lego Star Wars.

-- Alex Pham