Tom Clancy doesn’t own his brand any more.

Back in August of 2000, French videogame publisher Ubisoft purchased Tom Clancy’s Morrisville-based game studio, Red Storm Entertainment, which gave them the rights to hit game franchises, including "Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six," "Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell," "Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter" and the upcoming "Tom Clancy’s EndWar."

Thursday, the publisher bought the Tom Clancy name outright, which eliminates the royalty for each game that the company previously paid the best-selling author.

Ubisoft has acquired all intellectual property rights to the Tom Clancy name, on a perpetual basis and free of all related future royalty payments, for use in videogames and ancillary products including related books, movies and merchandising products. That includes Ryan, the hero of best-sellers Clancy wrote including "Hunt for Red October," "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger."

Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, Ubisoft did say that that it expects to have a net cash position of 130 million euros ($201 million) at the end of fiscal 2007-2008, versus 150 million euros ($232 million) prior to the deal. Ubisoft will also make payments to Clancy in fiscal 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.

Ubisoft CEO Targets ‘Next Level’

"The future of our industry lies in our capacity to create and develop brands that captivate consumers and that present a myriad of opportunities for the full spectrum of entertainment, be it videogames, books, movies or other media," said Yves Guillemot, chief executive officer at Ubisoft. "The Tom Clancy brand is recognized around the world for offering exciting video games, films and books.

“The most recent example of such value creation through brand management is the EndWar book, based on the videogame story, which has been in the NY Times top 10 Paperback Mass Market Fiction bestseller list for the last four weeks,” he added. “Capitalizing on the strong franchises that we’ve built over the past 10 years, we will take the Tom Clancy game brand to the next level of the global entertainment industry."

Locally, the Morrisville Red Storm Entertainment studio recently worked on Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter franchise. It has been a blockbuster hit for Ubisoft.

The Ubisoft deal comes on the heels of recent Hollywood news. Looking to jump-start the Jack Ryan franchise, as it’s doing this fall with J.J. Abrams and Star Trek, Paramount Pictures has partnered with Sam Raime to bring that classic Clancy character to life as a younger CIA agent. At one point, Paramount also had the rights to the Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell franchises, although no movement has come from those properties outside of the annual game releases.

With this new deal, Ubisoft will take a more active role in the development of these game brands to the big screen. Ubisoft has had ties with Hollywood, working with Sony Pictures Animation on adapting movies like Surf’s Up and Open Season. The studio recently brought Paramount’s Beowulf to gamers and is working with James Cameron on an avatar game through a deal with 20th Century Fox.

Since Ubisoft began publishing the Clancy games 10 years ago, the company has turned each franchise into a best-selling juggernaut with annual global sales that continue to grow. Ubisoft has assigned key studios like Ubisoft Montreal and Red Storm Entertainment to develop these games. They have also delayed game releases to ensure that the quality was up to par for the gamers who love these characters.

MMO World Next?

It looks like the next move for the Clancy franchise will be in the massively multiplayer online game world. According to Guillemot, who spoke on a conference call, a Clancy branded MMO is in the early stages of development. A studio is not yet in production on the game, which Guillemot said would cost between $40 million and $50 million to create.

Typically, an MMO game takes about four years to develop from the ground up. Guillemot said Ubisoft has the technology to make an MMO game and the recent Clancy IP deal frees the company up to move forward on this project.

"We have lots of games in the Clancy franchise that are already multiplayer," said Guillemot. "So to create an MMO, we need to have larger teams to actually spend the time to create it."

While the details of the game are still being developed, Ubisoft has many Tom Clancy franchises that can be woven into an MMO experience. The upcoming EndWar game will off thousands of gamers the chance to engage in global combat, although it is not a true MMO. And that game blends characters from other Clancy game properties into its story line.