Ubisoft has announced the acquisition of free-to-play game developer Owlient. Details of the deal were not disclosed, so it's not clear how much Ubisoft paid for the small company, which employs some 40 employees.
Owlient has created multiple successful online properties. The most popular one is Howrse, a game that lets you breed horses or ponies and manage an equestrian center. Owlient currently has 2 million active users, but Ubisoft says it was interested in the team's extensive expertise in the management of online game-playing communities.
Olient (the "Ow" in the name was added later) was started on September 8, 2005 in Paris, France. The name came from the two founders names: Olivier Issaly and Vincent Guth. In 2004, the pair created hariCow, a web development framework based on the LAMP architecture, used for every Owlient project. A year later, their first game at Equideo.com was online. In 2006, considering the success of the game, the two founders decided to stop their studies and to work exclusively to develop Owlient. In April 2008, Owlient raised €3 million from Innovacom to accelerate its growth.
Today, Owlient has games for those passionate about horses, child-rearing, and fashion, in six languages (English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish). Owlient wants to designing new games around what people are passionate about and extend its reach internationally. Ubisoft will likely be able to help with that, unless of course the gaming giant has other plans for Owlient.
"We are thrilled to welcome the talented team at Owlient to Ubisoft. Over the last five years they have developed an architecture dedicated to delivering and monetizing games as a service, as well as the skills of attracting and retaining online communities," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said in a statement. "This acquisition is the next step in the acceleration of Ubisoft's free-to-play strategy following last year's launch of Settlers Online, CSI Crime City and Heroes Kingdoms, as well as the recent beta launch of our ambitious title Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online."
"Joining the Ubisoft team will allow us to accelerate our international business and to expand our expertise and our games to new platforms. It also lets us integrate our proven online services architecture with Ubisoft's so that we can help grow their brands online," Owlient CEO Olivier Issaly said in a statement. "We are proud of what our team has accomplished and confident that joining Ubisoft will allow us to continue that success. We'd also like to thank our shareholder Innovacom, who has accompanied the Owlient team over the years as we developed."