Bruckheimer Games hires industry veterans

RALIEGH, North Carolina, May 12 (Reuters) - Jerry Bruckheimer Games Inc. on Tuesday named a pair of videogame veterans to lead the company nearly 18 months after entering into a publishing agreement with MTV Games.

Jim Veevaert, formerly an executive producer at Microsoft, and Jay Cohen, previously senior vice president of publishing at Ubisoft, will lead Bruckheimer Games as president of production and president of development, respectively.

The pair will work together with Hollywood producer Bruckheimer, responsible for the “Pirates of The Caribbean” movies and the “C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation” television shows, to build a new studio focused on original, story-driven videogame projects.

“I think Jim Veevaert and Jay Cohen are enormously talented,” said Bruckheimer. “They’ve been very successful at developing the kind of games that I like a lot.”

In addition to overseeing the launch of "Halo 3," which took in over $300 million in global sales its first week, Veevaert brought Epic Games and the 11 million unit-selling "Gears of War" franchise to Microsoft MSFT.O.

While at Ubisoft, Cohen orchestrated the launch of major game franchises including “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell,” “Assassin’s Creed,” and “Prince of Persia.”

As one of Hollywood’s major producers, Bruckheimer brings his ties to film and TV into the gaming world.

Bruckheimer Games plans a “Prince of Persia” title linked to Walt Disney Pictures’ “The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” which he is producing and is slated for release in 2010 with Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince.

“I think there are a lot of similarities in what we do in television and film that we can help with games,” said Bruckheimer. “I felt the same way about television when we got into that about 12 years ago. We can add our expertise on top of what these great game developers are doing.”

Although he’s not a gamer, Bruckheimer said he’ll certainly be involved with the creation of the videogames at his studio.

“I approach games the same way as I approach films or television, which is I hire really talented people and let them do what they do and support them,” explained Bruckheimer. “That’s been our company motto. We work very closely with the talent and try to help them get through the process.”

Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music & Logo Group, believes that Veevaert and Cohen, along with the development team at Harmonix, the creators of “Rock Band,” will help Bruckheimer learn about the nuances of interactive entertainment.

“For someone who’s been so successful with film and TV for so long, you have to assume he’ll have the same success at some point in interactive media like gaming,” said Toffler.

No timeline was given for the first title from Bruckheimer Games, although a typical top-tier game’s development takes 18 to 24 months once a team is in place. (Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)