Microsoft decides it needs a BigPark

The software maker buys the Vancouver, B.C.-based game studio, which was co-founded by Microsoft senior vice president Don Mattrick.

Updated 2:10 p.m., with additional details

Microsoft said on Thursday it intends to acquire BigPark, a Vancouver, B.C.-based game studio.

BigPark, which is made up of former Electronic Arts Canada and Distinctive Software executives, has been working on an Xbox-exclusive game over the past year.

Microsoft plans to buy BigPark, a company chaired by Don Mattrick (pictured above), who already serves as a senior VP in Microsoft's game unit. Microsoft

"We believe BigPark has tremendous potential to create new properties and innovative gaming experiences for our platforms, one of which we're looking forward to showcasing at the E3 Expo in June," Microsoft game studios boss Phil Spencer said in a statement. The company did not disclose financial terms in its press release announcing the deal.

Among BigPark's founders is Don Mattrick, who joined Microsoft in July 2007 as senior VP of its interactive entertainment business, while continuing to serve as BigPark's chairman. Microsoft noted that Mattrick's investment and role at BigPark was known to the company when it hired him.

However, neither Mattrick's Microsoft biography nor the press release announcing his hiring mention BigPark.

Update: I asked Microsoft for more clarification on Mattrick's role in the deal.

"Don was not a participant in the negotiations with BigPark either in his capacity as SVP of (Microsoft's game business) or Chairman of BigPark," a Microsoft representative said in a statement. Microsoft added that Mattrick's ongoing role as chairman of BigPark was approved by the company, pursuant to its code of business conduct. "As Chairman, Don was not involved in the day to day management of the BigPark business," Microsoft said.

Microsoft maintains that it did not note Mattrick's role at BigPark when when he was hired at Microsoft because, "BigPark had not publicly launched as an organization." Mattrick is noted (though not his Microsoft affiliation) on BigPark's Web site. As for why his role at BigPark is not part of his Microsoft biography, Microsoft said "As Chairman, Don was not involved in the day to day management of the BigPark business, nor was he an employee of the company; Therefore, mention of Don's limited involvement in BigPark was not significant enough to be included in his biography."

As for its decision not to disclose the purchase price, Microsoft said: "BigPark is a small company and the acquisition is not material from a financial reporting perspective to Microsoft."

Microsoft said the company has 50 employees.

What was that old saying? Disclosure is the better part of valor. Something like that anyway.

Among the other topics Microsoft isn't discussing: just what that game is that BigPark is working on for the Xbox. A representative declined to discuss the genre or nature of the Xbox game under development, saying only that it would be revealed at E3.

 

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