Titus Interactive will sell its Spanish distribution unit, in the hope of cutting fixed operating costs and meeting stock market pressure to turn a profit. However, the sale further weakens Titus, following a series of decisions that have seen the group relinquish some of its most valuable assets. Recovering from its current position will not be easy.
French games developer Titus Interactive has sold its VIE Espana subsidiary.
Tim Chaney, former boss of Virgin Interactive, has completed a management buy-out of Virgin Interactive Entertainment Espana from French games developer Titus Interactive. VIE Espana will continue to distribute Titus’ games in Spain.
Although this helps cut Titus’ costs and return it to the black, it diminishes the group’s capabilities. Titus’ financial difficulties have forced it to sell off a growing part of its studios and distribution network to competitors.
In April, Titus sold Shiny Entertainment to Infogrames, giving up the rights to create games based on the Matrix franchise. It also ended its distribution relationship with Bioware, maker of acclaimed role-playing game Baldur’s Gate, following a dispute between Titus’ Interplay unit and the developer.
Since Titus bought a controlling stake in Interplay in 1999, the US publisher has been a major source of problems. Interplay was an interesting target thanks to its popular PC franchises. However, a conflict rapidly emerged between Titus CEO Herve Caen and Interplay CEO Brian Fargo. Although Mr Fargo ultimately left the company, the problems diverted attention from more important matters.
During the technology boom, Titus used its stock market popularity to buy its way up the publisher league, taking over Interplay and Virgin Interactive Entertainment. However, the company has experienced difficulty in integrating them. With mounting costs and little to show in terms of increased sales, it has been forced to scale back its operations.
Titus is now in a difficult situation: it needs to rebuild itself, but is still not entirely clear of financial troubles. It also lacks solid and popular games to do so – and its problems make it look less attractive to potential developers in search of distributors or publishers. Without strong support from the stock market, Titus’ resurgence looks set to be slow and difficult.
Related research: Datamonitor, 2002: Global Electronic Games
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