Recently, Keywords Studios has arranged an agreement to acquire Age of Empires series’ developer, Forgotten Empires. Keywords Studios, a frequent QA collaborator with BioWare, has negotiated a business deal of up to $32.5 million by piecemeal: $15.75 million in cash and $3.75 million in shares up front, and up to “$13 million in cash and shares based on growth targets in the year following completion [of acquisition].” Keywords Studios is predominantly know for assisting other video game companies during development, especially QA testing and localization, so it is intriguing what Keywords Studios plans to do with its newly acquired company. Reportedly, Forgotten Empires’ studio head, Ryan Shepard, “will continue to lead the outfit and its 53 staff under the new ownership” of Keywords Studios. Keywords Studios’ CEO, Bertrand Bodson, stated:
We are very excited to welcome Ryan and the Forgotten Empires team to Keywords…The studio has been instrumental in helping to create, design and grow the hugely successful and expanding Age of Empires series. Forgotten Empires’ talented team brings experience and expertise particularly in real time strategy games and will be a great addition to our client offering and game development capability.
It seems Keywords Studios is attempting to branch out from its roots in development assistance and testing because in December of last year, Keywords Studios had also acquired digital creative-marketing agency, Waste Creative, and video game development studio that helped create Age of Empires II and other titles, Wicked Witch. Steve Dauterman, Wicked Witch studio head, stated. “The acquisition will help accelerate our growth and provide our clients and staff with the opportunities that come with joining this industry leading global business. We are looking forward to the next phase in the studio’s development as part of the Keywords group.”
This news of acquiring Forgotten Empires comes just days later after Keywords Studios’ workers unanimously won their unionization efforts two days ago. Keywords Studios did not retaliate against the QA testers, currently at BioWare’s offices, and immediately recognized the union once the vote count was finalized.