Emergent CEO walks as Korean firm buys assets

Emergent CEO walks as Korean firm buys assets

By Rob Crossley

December 22nd 2010 at 4:01PM

Scott Johnson replaced by David Brame; New owner Gamebase â??to focus on Emergentâ??s rootsâ??

The assets of game engine vendor Emergent have been purchased by the Korean firm Gamebase, both firms have announced.

Emergent has also revealed to Develop that its CEO, Scott Johnson, has left the company. He will be replaced by the former vice president of sales at Emergent in Asia, David Brame.

In paise for the man he is replacing, Brame said Johnson had “worked diligently to ensure a positive transition of ownership and has kept the best interests of the Gamebryo community at the forefront during the entire acquisition process.”

Johnson was appointed CEO ten months ago.

As revealed in a previous Develop report, Katie Morgan, Emergent’s vice president of global marketing, has left the company after two years.

Over the next few weeks Gamebase will be contacting all licensees of Emergent’s technology to discuss the situation.

Korea-based Gamebase, a long-time strategic partner of Emergent, is said to have been the “highest bidder” of several firms interested in buying the company.

JY Park, president of Gamebase, said his first goal “is to focus on the company’s roots - working closely with customers and providing excellent customer service.  This is one of the key reasons why Gamebryo evolved into such a popular development engine.”

Emergent put its assets up for sale in November due to money problems.

As of mid-November, Emergent said it had not made cuts to its workforce and was operating “under its normal course of business”. Develop has contacted Emergent on the matter.

Emergent’s popular Gamebryo LightSpeed engine is central to numerous games, including Fallout 3 and Epic Mickey.

The firm has struggled of late. It announced a restructure in late 2009, and despite setting up more nimble efforts such as an IP and studio incubator - which gave free office space to new studios in exchange for future licensing revenues - other big bets, such as an aborted joint venture to merge technology with challenged Australian studio Krome, appeared to have accelerated the firm's difficulties.

Although it has been a popular choice in the middleware world - Emergent's Gamebryo has featured in over 350 games and generated $12.2m in revenue last year - its rivals have outpaced it; Unity is currently riding a wave of excitement at its yearly Unite conference, which started yesterday, while Epic Games is moving to new platforms such as iOS.

Recently, Bethesda Softworks decided against licensing the Gamebryo engine for its next Elder Scrolls title, bringing an end to a four-year partnership – and a routine money-spinner for the company.

Emergent was originally formed in 2000 to create 3D graphics technology. It merged with Gamebryo creator NDL in 2005. The firm currently offices around the world, with its main development base in California.