GREE purchases yet another U.S. gaming company

Japanese game developer has acquired three U.S. game developers in two years

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
September 17, 2012
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Updated to reflect comment from GREE

As Zynga loses some of its grip on the U.S. mobile gaming market, other companies are inevitably going to swoop in and try to grab it up. Japanese social gaming company GREE has been putting the pieces into place to try to capture some of the U.S. market since last year, and today it made yet another move. 

GREE announced Monday that it has purchased mobile game developer App Ant Studios, creator of Dino Life for Android.

A GREE spokesperson would not disclose the terms of the deal, but the purchase further bolsters GREE’s bid to expand its mobile footprint.

"The team at App Ant Studios has continually impressed us with the quality of its engineering, art, and overall product. They share the same strong passion GREE has for mobile social gaming and we genuinely respect their dedication to evolving the gaming industry, " Naoki Aoyagi, Chief Executive Officer of GREE International, said in a statement.

 "With our constantly growing and evolving mobile game market, having such exceptional talent on board to build great experiences for the latest hardware is a huge priority for us."

The San Carlos, California-based App Ant Studios had previously worked with Gree earlier this year to develop the Android title Dino Life. The workers at App Ant Studios will now be integrated into the team at GREE. This includes the company’s four founders, who will take leadership roles in the Game Development and Engineering teams.

The acquisition of App Ant Studios is GREE’s third purchase in the past two years that will help it to expand into the global market, especially in the U.S.

GREE previously purchased the gaming platform OpenFeint, based in Burlingame, California, for $104 million in April 2011. Then, in May of this year, GREE bought mobile game developer Funzio, creator of such titles as Crime City, Modern War, and Kingdom Age.

On top of its purchases, GREE has also been developing its own platform and games to be sold internationally.

In November 2011, it announced plans to launch a new global gaming platform to be released this year. It also revised their projected earnings up 40 to 50% after seeing their network growing at a rate of 3.8 new users per second. In 2011, GREE opened new offices in the United States, China, Korea, Singapore, UK, the Netherlands and had plans for Brazil.  

In March of this year GREE launched its first U.S. created app, Zombie Jombie, a month after announcing that it was setting up a new 41,000 square foot office space in San Francisco.

GREE’s purchases of OpenFeint, Funzio and App Ant Studios will help give them the platform to launch more games internationally, GREE has put the pieces in place to become a major player in the U.S. gaming developing industry, which should allow it to compete with some the biggest U.S. companies, like Zynga and Big Fish Games.

Lately, Zynga, the biggest mobile game developer in the U.S. has been hard hit by bad earnings reports, accusations, lawsuits, and an exodus of people leaving the company.

GREE, on the hand, is poised to take over. It in Q3 2012 earnings report back in May, the company announced that sales and income had tripled from the year before.

GREE reported 13.4 billion yen ($168.5 million) in net income, up from 4.7 billion a year ago, and 46.2 billion yen ($578.9 million) in net sales, up from 16.4 last year, in the quarter ending March 31. GREE saw all of its numbers increase quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year.

Could the U.S. be seeing a new mobile game king in the near future?

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