bitheads playbrains bedlam games - Ascension CrossMedia Inc.

bitHeads Acquires Bedlam Games

Ottawa-based bitHeads acquires Toronto digital studio Bedlam Games to become one of Ontario’s largest digital media companies.

Ascension CrossMedia Inc. is bitheads, playbrains and bedlam gamesReceived a bit of interesting news from a friend of mine who works at Playbrains, that its parent company bitHeads has just acquired a local digital media studio and is looking to hire.

After 15 successful years, prominent Ottawa gaming and application company bitHeads has decided to double its personnel by acquiring local Toronto digital media studio Bedlam Games. The new company will be dubbed the roll-off-the-tongue title of Ascension CrossMedia Inc. (naturally), but will continue to use bitHeads and Bedlam with clients.

Together the two companies plan to target an emerging form of gaming called “connected transmedia.” This new form of gameplay allows consumers to play a single game across any form of media, be it television, console mobile; providing application makers with virtual 24-hour access to their market.

Co-chief executive Scott Simpson of bitHeads said financial details of the transaction are confidential, but Ascension has predicted $13 million in revenue. The acquisition will not effect current personnel and they will remain in their jobs and respective cities. However, the company is targeting “aggressive” growth with 14 new jobs currently open.

“Bedlam concentrates on larger predominantly hard-core games, whereas we do downloadable games, not casual games, but lighter quote-unquote ‘fun’, if you want to think of it that way,” said Mr. Simpson, who is co-CEO of Ascension along with Bedlam’s Trevor Fencott.

The deal will make bitHeads one of Ontario’s largest digital media companies, contending with firms such as Silicon Knights out of St. Catherines and Toronto’s Ubisoft.

“We have very complementary games we develop, but on top of that we both realized (it’s not enough) just being a games company any more.”

Bedlam Games landed in the movie spotlight last year when it partnered with brother screenwriting team Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber, who worked on the movies RED and Battleship. The Hoeber brothers are currently working with Bedlam on their latest venture, Blood and Glory, a game they hope to eventually pitch as a movie (please no
Uwe Boll involvement).

Three-time winner of Ottawa Business Journal’s Employee’s Choice Awards, bitHeads (as previously mentioned) has been pursuing its own gaming business through a subsidiary called Playbrains, who create both console and PC games, and is probably most notable for their best selling title Madballs in… Babo: Invasion. The company also does development work on computer programs for other applications, like Barbados-based Pyramidal Technologies’ bullet analysis software.

Although the company is now at a similar size to other Ontario-based gaming firms, Mr. Simpson said ramping up bitHeads’ employee base was not about targeting the competition.

“Those places, we’re amazingly friendly with them and on the board of Interactive Ontario with them,” Mr. Simpson said, adding the transaction is more about a “value add.”

Ascension plans to release four console games in 2011, with two names revealed so far:Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale for Atari, and Sideway: New York for Sony Online Entertainment.


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