Ubisoft buys free-to-play game developer Owlient

Paris-based free-to-play game developer Owlient has created a number of successful online properties. The most popular of those is Howrse, a game that lets you train and race ponies until they get old and die, at which point you send them to Heaven. It is this kind of unprecedented vision that made the studio a prime target for megapublisher Ubisoft, which acquired Owlient earlier today.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot explained in a press release, "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." Those all sound just fine -- we just hope Owlient doesn't lose sight of its Heaven-Pony roots under its new management.
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San Francisco, CA – July 12, 2011 – Today, Ubisoft announced the acquisition of free-to-play game developer Owlient. The team at Owlient has extensive expertise in the management of online game-playing communities, and their Howrse brand has almost two million monthly active users.

Founded in Paris in 2005 Owlient, with its 40 team members is a forerunner in creating free-to-play games. The company set itself apart for its ability to develop the expertise and technology necessary to manage and entertain an online game community.

"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," said Yves Guillemot, chief executive officer at Ubisoft. "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," affirmed Olivier Issaly, chief executive officer of Owlient. "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."

Following acquisitions of Massive Entertainment, Nadeo and Quazal, Owlient represents the continuation of Ubisoft's focus on expanding its online expertise and infrastructure in order to expand its portfolio using new online business models. The recent launch of AAA project Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online in closed beta, the enthusiasm of the TrackMania community, the success of The Settlers Online in Germany and the Uplay online services platform are the most recent realizations of this strategy.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.