Nat Geo Launches Game Unit

National Geographic has created National Geographic Games (NGG), a new division dedicated to developing and publishing video games across major gaming consoles, handheld devices, online outlets and mobile platforms. The company has also partnered with Namco Bandai and Sony Computer Entertainment to put out family-friendly games.

Paul Levine, senior VP of National Geographic Venture’s extended platforms group and senior VP of corporate strategy and development for National Geographic Global Media (NGGM) will lead the new division as well as NGV’s Maps and Mobile businesses. Chris Mate, a former Take2 Interactive and Bethesda Softworks exec with more than 25 years of experience, has joined as VP and general manager for NGG, and will oversee and manage the group’s daily global operations.

NGG’s first game to be produced in-house is Herod’s Lost Tomb, which highlights content from the December 2008 issue of National Geographic magazine and a National Geographic Channel broadcast on the biblical figure King Herod, architect of the ancient world. The game will be available online as a free Flash version at nationalgeographic.com/channel and as a downloadable game for PC, Mac and iPhone.

Herod’s Lost Tomb debuts this month and will be followed shortly by Namco Bandai’s National Geographic: Panda and Sony’s National Geographic: Africa. December will see the release of NGG’s Sudoku Traveler: China. Titles announced for 2009 include Rain Forests, Greencity and From the Bottom Up, which will all be in-house productions.