Thursday - July 30, 2009
Ascaron - Studio 2 Dissolved?
While the situation isn't clear, a goodbye thread from Ascaron Studio 2 developers seems to suggest that they have been let go and the studio closed. You may recall Ascaron filed for insolvency and, ultimately, divested most of their IP except Sacred 2. Studio 2 - the Sacred 2 team - would stay on to develop the addon.
In addition to saying "goodbye", the first post from developer Lars_Hammer says "R.I.P. Studio II (01.07.2002-31.07.2009)" in the signature. He does point out the servers and authentication have been handed to publisher Koch Media but we do wonder where this leaves the Ice & Blood addon.
Thursday - June 04, 2009
Ascaron - Insolvency Update
Sacred 2 developer / co-publisher Ascaron will be split into separate business units.
Kalypso Media confirms acquistion of Ascaron assets and the foundation of a new development studio!
E3- Los Angeles, June 3rd 2009
Kalypso Media can today confirm that an agreement for the acquisition of most brands, intangible assets and exploitation rights of insolvent Ascaron Entertainment GmbH- has been signed with the German administrators, Pielemeyer & Welsch.
Kalypso will take over the full rights of the famous Ascaron brands, such as “DarkStar One”, “Patrician” or “Port Royale”, though a few existing license agreements held by Ascaron UK will stay with the Ascaron until expiration.
Moreover, the German publisher will hold a majority of share of a new studio which will be established mutually with former Ascaron lead designers Kay Struve and Daniel Dumont. The 12 ex-employees of Ascaron will be employed at the new studio to continue the high-quality development of console and PC products.
Simon Hellwig, Managing Director of Kalypso explains: “We are very proud of this deal, which allows us to continue the development of well-known brands, to create a high potential of further growth and to secure some of the teams jobs as well.”
More details and information about the new studio and the products to be developed will be announced soon.
This PR can be found everywhere, for example on GameBanshee. According to local daily newspaper Neue Westfälische, refering to Ascaron managing director Heiko tom Felde, Kalypso (Tropico 3) agreed to invest a 7-digit sum into the new studio in Gütersloh.
A solution for Studio 2 (Sacred) is being worked on. (same source)
The Ascaron Entertainment GmbH will become a company without employees. It will collect the revenues for the games Ascaron developed. The money will be used to pay debt. (same source)
Due to Sacred 2's so far excellent sales on consoles Mr tom Felde expects the company will be able to pay all creditors in full. (same source)
A few question remain. It seems the new studio will secure ca. 15 jobs and the upcoming Studio 2 deal ca. 30 jobs. Ascaron's own homepage talks about 90 employees though. What about the other half of the workforce? And what about Ascaron's QA branch?
Friday - April 17, 2009
Ascaron - Files for Insolvency!
According to their own homepage, Ascaron has filed for insolvency! This step was necessary due to delays during Sacred 2's four year development cycle.
Sacred 2 sold more than 100k in Germany and more than 400k units worldwide so far.
Work on the Sacred 2 console versions has been successfully finished. Both Sony and Micrsoft have given their approval. Now Ascaron is working on a Sacred 2 addon and the successor Sacred 3.
Ascaron confirmed they are in take-over negotiations with well-known parties. The talks will continue in close cooperation with their preliminary insolvency administrator.
This doesn't necessarily spell the end for the developer and publisher. It simply means that the company, at the time of the filing, didn't have enough cash on the bank to pay all bills. Now the preliminary insolvency administrator will assess Ascaron's business modell and every asset they have, try to find solutions with all creditors, modify the business so that it can be pursued successfully, and try to save as many of the 90 jobs as possible.
Ascaron had to file for bankruptcy once before, back in 2001. They survived after painful cuts.
The most probable candidates for taking over Ascaron are Ubisoft and Koch Media. Ubi has already successfully integrated two other experienced German studios, Blue Byte (The Settlers) and Sunflowers (Anno / nnnn A.D.). Koch Media's premium label Deep Silver publishes Sacred 2 in several European Countries. Both companies are big enough to stem such an acquisition.