MCA Branching Out to Video Game Publishing

TIMES STAFF WRITER

MCA Inc. has formed a multimedia entertainment division to develop and publish video games and interactive software, the company said Tuesday.

The new business unit, Universal Interactive Studios, will be headed by Skip Paul, MCA executive vice president. Its first title, expected to be released within a few months, will be a CD-ROM game based on Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie "Jurassic Park."

While nearly all the major film studios have invested in software firms and started interactive units of their own in the last two years, Matsushita subsidiary MCA had previously limited its investment in the nascent multimedia industry to 3DO, a high-tech video game hardware firm.

"We have gone prudently and rationally into this area, as opposed to just throwing money at little investments in outside companies," said Paul, one of the few senior Hollywood executives who has had extensive experience in the interactive realm--from his days at Atari during the first video game boom. "Our goal is to be a higher-end producer," he said.

Paul said that Universal Interactive will focus on producing software for the more sophisticated 32-bit video game systems that are just going on the market. These allow for more realistic graphics and near-broadcast-quality video. One of its main tasks will be to develop titles for 3DO, whose success depends largely on developing games that will be attractive enough to make consumers want to go out and buy the machines on which to play them.

Other titles in the works include several projects developed at an interactive "skunk works" set up at MCA's music group earlier this year--such as interactive liner notes for Elton John's recently released album and a BB King CD-ROM. Robert Biniaz, MCA Music and Entertainment's senior vice president for business development, was involved in the skunk works and will be chief operating officer at Universal Interactive.

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