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‘Payday’ developer to revive Cinemaware classics in VR

Payday series developer Starbreeze announced that it has purchased the rights to several classic Cinemaware PC games in the hopes of releasing new versions optimized for virtual reality.

The purchase grants Starbreeze full creative control over new entries in classic Cinemaware franchises like It Came from the Desert, Wings, and Defender of the Crown, among many others.

Related: ‘Payday 3’ confirmed as Starbreeze acquires full rights to the franchise

Starbreeze’s Cinemaware catalog purchase weighs in at 525,000 euros, or roughly $585,000. With this transaction, Starbreeze now owns the rights to the Cinemaware brand in addition to the games Defender of the Crown, Wings, The King of Chicago, Sinbad and the Throne of the Falcon, Lords of the Rising Sun, Rocket Ranger, SDI, It Came from the Desert and the sequel of that game, Antheads, and multiple entries in the TV Sports series.

Rather than repurposing these brands as consumer-oriented VR titles, Starbreeze plans to create location-based “VR experiences” based on Cinemaware’s classic franchises.

“For us, as a developer, it will be a pleasure to re-energize and bring these great brands into the new era of VR and other platforms,” said Starbreeze CEO Bo Andersson Klint. “The classic Cinemaware games are concepts that still in this day are epic imaginations. We will make them excel in excellent VR experiences at our location-based IMAX centers.”

Cinemaware established itself as a creative force in the games industry throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, with games like Defender of the Crown and It Came from the Desert proving especially influential. Many of Cinemaware’s games adapted popular movie genres to the world of PC gaming, resulting in acclaimed narrative-driven titles like the mobster-themed The King of Chicago.

The company went bankrupt in 1991, and the rights to its legacy titles changed hands multiple times over the last two decades. The studio saw a brief return in the early 2000s with releases like Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown and Game Boy Advance adaptations of Wings and The Three Stooges. Development later ceased when the company name was purchased and used as a publishing label for unrelated games.

Starbreeze notes that Cinemaware branding and licenses will be “selectively used in Starbreeze internal development and its external publishing business.” Details regarding upcoming games using the Cinemaware branding are not yet known.