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Intel snaps up Dublin gaming firm

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Dublin-based games middleware company Havok is to be taken over by chip manufacturer Intel in a deal valued at over $100m.

The chip giant bought Havok in an all-cash transaction valued at $110m according to TVC Holdings, which sold its interests in the gaming firm as part of the deal. The agreement, which is expected to close within five days, will see the company that grew out of Trinity College become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel.

Havok's software tools have been used on games such as BioShock, Harry Potter, Half Life 2, MotorStorm and Second Life, as well as upcoming titles such as Halo 3, Alan Wake, and Indiana Jones.

The company's tools have also been used to make Hollywood films including Poseidon, The Matrix, Troy, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The main area of focus for the middleware firm had been in-game physics, but the Dublin company has expanded in recent years to animation and packages of comprehensive tools for games developers.

Havok currently makes developer tools for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3, both of which run on IBM processors. In PC gaming, Intel rival AMD has built up a large following within the hardcore gaming community; this move by Intel could boost competition between the chip rivals.

There may be possible conflicts of interest with Havok's clients and the company's new owners. However, an Intel statement on the deal says: "Havok will operate its business as usual, which will allow them to continue developing products that are offered across all platforms in the industry."

The statement repeats that Havok will "continue to operate as an independent business".

Three years ago, games publisher EA obtained British developer Criterion along with the firm's RenderWare middleware arm – RenderWare were Havok's main competition, but have been seen as just an arm of EA ever since. Activision also purchased Irish multiplayer games middleware company DemonWare early this year.

Founded in 1998, Havok now employs over 75 people mostly in Dublin, but also in offices at San Francisco, San Antonio, Stockholm, Kolkata (Calcutta), Munich, and Tokyo.

"Intel's scale of technology investment and customer reach enable Havok with opportunities to grow more quickly into new market segments with new products than we could have done organically," Havok CEO David O'Meara said in a statement.

"We believe the winning combination is Havok's technology and customer know-how with Intel's scale. I am excited to be part of this next phase of Havok's growth."

The firm released the latest product version, Havok 5, less than two weeks ago, with Havok Animation 5 and Havok Behavior 5.

© 2007 ENN

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