Backbone And Collective MergeStrong Foundation March 29, 2005 - As the next-generation of systems begins to rear its monstrous head, the game industry is massively re-shuffling. Independent developers are joining forces. To wit -- The Collective (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith) and Backbone Entertainment (Death, Jr.) jointly announced their intention to merge today, forming what they call "the largest independent developer in North America." (Were not sure where that leaves EA, the largest independent publisher and developer in the world, but at least it sounds good and strong.) Foundation 9 Entertainments comprises Backbone Entertainment, The Collective, and Digital Eclipse, and it retains the ImaginEngine brand, specializing in childrens and value titles. The new companys first original IP is Death Jr., a Konami-published PSP game due in 005. Death Jr. is already licensed for comic books, t-shirts, action figures and more. Bobble-heads of death, anyone? Sharing technologies, pooling resources and bolstering retail might, Foundation 9 plans to offer games for multiple systems, including the next-gen, with plans to invest in the creation, acquisition, and development of intellectual properties (IPs) to grow and stay competitive. As a collective group of developers, Foundation 9 Entertainment has an enormous library of games and a deep history. Its created more than 250 titles, including 50-plus in 2004. "The decision to join together and form the largest independent development company in North America was easy given our shared vision for the interactive entertainment market," said Jon Goldman. "With the increasing complexity of next-generation platforms, we see great opportunities that can only be addressed by pooling talent and financial resources. We will be able to better invest in technology, processes and creative opportunities that will make us a key player in the future of game development and beyond." Foundation 9 Entertainments management team is headed by CEO Jon Goldman. Co-presidents Andrew Ayre and Douglas Hare, and co-chairmen Gary Priest and Mark Loughridge are joined by chief creative officer Richard Hare and vice president of Canadian operations Jeff Vavasour. Steven Sardegna takes on the role of CFO with Larry Kelly as COO. Foundation 9 employs more than 300 people in North America, with offices in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, the San Francisco Bay Area, Vancouver, and Boston. "Well be rolling out our strategy through upcoming partnerships that will foster new media opportunities for our publishers and other existing relationships," said Douglas Hare. "Our intention is to continue to focus on our existing opportunities and expand our current game development business substantially through our increased capabilities." Well have more on Foundation 9 shortly.