IGN to acquire UGO, will operate gaming-focused website outside of News Corp.

ign-logoNews Corp.‘s IGN and Hearst Corporation‘s UGO, which notably acquired 1UP.com in 2009, are two of the top video game media powerhouses on the Internet. And they’re about to join forces, according to a report from AllThingsD.

IGN will acquire the Hearst holding as part of a planned move to separate itself from News Corp. and operate independently as “a standalone Web business that will focus primarily on video game news, reviews, and culture.” News Corp. is said to be seeking additional investors to help shoulder the cost of the new endeavor, and IGN may be making some additional acquisitions before the split becomes official.

Neither company commented on the news, which can probably be best classified at this point as an “extremely likely rumor.” The word is that executives from News Corp. and Hearst spent the weekend finalizing plans. Assuming all went well, an official announcement should be coming in the next few days.

AllThingsD notes that the move on News Corp.’s side doesn’t signal the “disposal of an impaired asset.” IGN is growing at a healthy pace, expected to earn more than $10 million this year on revenues of roughly $100 million. The belief is that the site will grow even more rapidly if it is allowed to operate independently of the Rupert Murdoch company.

News Corp. purchased IGN in 2005 for $650 million, less than the amount spent on MySpace, which was acquired a few months earlier and which is now being auctioned off. Hearst acquired UGO in 2007 for $100 million, though an executive shakeup in the years that followed left the site with an interim director as its owner struggled to figure out what to do with it. This seems to be a great move for both companies, and we look forward to seeing what the new relationship brings.