National Geographic enters video game market

National Geographic announced today, the creation of National Geographic Games, a new division dedicated to the development of video games for major consoles and computers, as well as mobile and hand held devices.

The division will be headed by Paul Levine, senior vice president of the extended platforms group at National Geographic Ventures, alongside former Take2 Interactive and Bethesda Software executive, Chris Mate, who has joined as the vice president and general manager of National Geographic Games.

According to Paul Levine, the new division aims to develop "fun games that allow gamers of all ages to experience and explore their world through play". Levine said, "our global audiences love to play games, and we plan on creating games in-house as well as working with leading global publishers to develop entertaining games that engage those audiences in a relevant way".

The first game, "Herod's Lost Tomb", has already been released for free, and will be available via the National Geographic website as a flash game, with a downloadable version available for the PC, Mac and iPhone, that will include more features and content.

The first games for the consoles are expected to come out this month, with "National Geographic: Africa" for the Playstation 3, and "National Geographic: Panda" for the Nintendo DS. According to Levine, "National Geographic: Panda" is somewhere between "Nintendogs"and "Zoo Tycoon".

Future games will include "Sudoku Traveller: China", which is due out this December, as well as three more games to be released in 2009.

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