Ubisoft Buys Trackmania Studio

TrackMania developer Nadeo has been acquired by Ubisoft, a move that’s sure to make fans of the franchise a little bit nervous.

The Paris-based Nadeo has earned considerable acclaim among PC gamers for its work on the popular series of stunt-racers that debuted in 2003. The games are short, simple and addictive, supported by free content from Nadeo as well as a huge number of user-generated tracks available online. In 2006, Nadeo released TrackMania Nations as freeware and the updated version, TrackMania Nations Forever, remains a popular online game.

“The acquisition of Nadeo is an important step in our expansion within the on-line gaming sector”, said Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. “Through Nadeo, Ubisoft will gain an expert team, one of the best on-line technologies around as well as a flagship multiplayer game that enjoys an unrivaled reputation among a loyal and committed community.”

Nadeo CEO Florent Castelnerac said the studio is a “complementary fit” for Ubisoft and that he was looking forward to being a part of its community. “Joining Ubisoft is a huge opportunity for us to develop and innovate and take Nadeo to new horizons”, he added. “Nadeo’s team was keen for this acquisition to happen.”

Fans of the series might not be quite so enthusiastic about the takeover, however. The TrackMania games are great but it’s hard to argue that Nadeo’s propensity to hand out free stuff isn’t a big part of its success. Is that a tradition Ubisoft will tolerate, or will the future of TrackMania be built upon premium-priced “collector’s editions” and pay-to-play DLC? We’ll find out soon enough: TrackMania 2 was announced at the Paris Game Festival last month and is expected to ship in 2010.

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