In a move identical to the recently announced animal logic interactive division, Ubisoft acquires the visual effects studio Hybride Tech. Except this time its the gaming company jumping into the visual effects /advertising industry. Something tells me we will see more of these entertainment convergence deals in the near future. I can't wait to see if EA makes a move. Since the Take Two acquisition failed, maybe they'll go after The Mill.
Technically these deals make sense. Both pipelines are similar and require the same staff. Granted, one may require more animators to the other's programmers. A gaming studio and an effects house buy the same version of 3ds max folks, think about it. And with the introduction of normal maps in game engines, (in theory) high-poly models can be used on both side without major overhauls to the initial mesh. And that's just one example of the technical crossover.
I believe in the harmony between the two industries. We see it everyday at our studio. Lately its not uncommon to be concepting an animated spot and turn around the next week and work on an interactive game or product launch. Same process, same ideas, same need to captivate an audience, just a different execution.
The industry may be calling this convergence, but in the early 80's it was called pioneering. Lucasarts was established in 1982 as the interactive arm of the empire. Another steady contributer to the empire's bank account is the sister company, Industrial Light & Magic. I wonder if George Lucas knew about normal maps and DMM 26 years ago.
Oh yeah, here's the press release.