Take Two, Nick team on games


Shifting gears from "Grand Theft Auto" to "Dora the Explorer," game publisher Take-Two Interactive and its 2K Gaming division have announced a casual gaming label, 2K Play, and a licensing deal with Nickelodeon.

The first games under the 2K Play label will be based on "Dora" and "Go, Diego, Go!" both TV programs in Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. lineup.

In addition to releasing the games for hand-helds and home consoles in the fall, 2K Play also will absorb Take-Two's Global Star Software division and its Cat Daddy Games studios as well as take over publishing PC games based on the hit TV game show "Deal or No Deal."

"For 2K, we definitely look at this as diversification and expanding our lineup," 2K president Christoph Hartmann said. "We're the No. 2 player in sports and everyone now knows about our games thanks to the huge success of 'BioShock.' 2K Play is the next step toward having an even wider portfolio."

In recent years, Nickelodeon TV shows have emerged as solid licenses in video gaming, thanks in large part to deals with publisher THQ to bring out titles based on "SpongeBob SquarePants," "Fairly OddParents," "Danny Phantom" and "Unfabulous."

It's not clear how the 2K Play deal will impact those licenses, but Hartmann said that the label will be more than license-driven.

"We will go after licenses, but we are also looking at titles from our own internal studios or through external publishing deals with outside developers," he added. "We're not interested in one-offs or in rushing product out -- we want to establish long-term relationships when we do licenses and build franchises we can exploit for years to come."

While casual gaming has done well on PCs, Hartmann said the recent success of the Nintendo DS portable and Wii home console in attracting a broad mass audience is opening the eyes of game publishers, including 2K, to the potential of the casual market.