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|Virgin Interactive Entertainment|
Video game publisher
London, United Kingdom
Virgin Interactive Entertainment (abbreviated VIE) was the video game publishing division of British conglomerate the Virgin Group. It was formed as Virgin Games Ltd. in 1983. Initially built around a small development team called the Gang of Five, the company grew significantly after purchasing budget label Mastertronic in 1987.
VIE was a publisher to several successful studios like Westwood Studios (Command & Conquer series, who Virgin acquired in 1992) and Shiny Entertainment (Earthworm Jim, MDK). As Virgin's video game division grew into a multimedia powerhouse, it crossed over to other industries from toys to film to education. To highlight its focus beyond video games and on multimedia, the publisher was renamed Virgin Interactive Entertainment in 1993.
During the 1990s, several companies shifted the ownership of Virgin Interactive Entertainment in varying shares, eventually leading to a financial collapse of the company by 1998. The worldwide operations were acquired by Interplay Entertainment in a majority stake buyout backed by Mark Dyne, who became its Chief Executive Officer. Tim Chaney, the former Managing Director was named president. The U.S. operations were divested to Electronic Arts as part of its $122.5 million (£75 million) acquisition of Westwood Studios on 17 August 1998.
VIE's equity shares were sold to Interplay (43.9%) and Titus (50.1%) in February and October 1999, respectively. Titus took control of all assets and IPs while Interplay got distribution rights of Virgin's titles in the Americas. VIE ceased to exist as an independent entity after all assets were transferred to Titus Software in 2002.
The company's assets were acquired by the French publisher Titus Software and its name was changed to Avalon Interactive on 1 July 2003. Titus Software later filed for bankruptcy in 2005, and both Avalon and Titus were closed as a result with all IP's transitioning to Interplay Entertainment. the VIE library and intellectual properties are currently owned by Interplay Entertainment. A Spanish subsidiary of the company was split up in 2002 and re-branded as Virgin Play, operating until 2009.
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