Empire Interactive, one of the U.K.'s leading computer game developers and publishers, and Vivendi Universal Publishing has announced a distribution deal, which will bring six new franchises to North America. The deal includes fifteen titles scheduled to premiere in fall 2001. As part of the deal, VU Publishing has acquired the rights to distribute six of Empire's upcoming titles, VICTORIOUS BOXERS, END GAME, ANTZ RACING, STARSKY & HUTCH, GHOSTMASTER and WORLD SPORTS CARS in the U.S. and Canada. Empire plans to publish the titles for multiple next-generation platforms and PC-CD Rom. "This deal is a major endorsement of the titles we are developing. It illustrates Empire's potential for significant growth and gives us the opportunity to challenge the larger players in the market," said Ian Higgins, CEO of Empire Interactive. "The combination of mainstream titles for multiple platforms, together with the strength of VU Publishing's distribution network, opens an exciting new chapter in Empire's history at a time when the games market is set for dramatic growth." Philip O'Neil, senior vice president of Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing North America, commented, "Empire Interactive's history of developing compelling and profitable titles for multiple platforms makes this partnership a natural fit. We look forward to leveraging Empire's development strengths to further our commitment to creating and delivering a wide variety of games for consumers of all ages."