Kabam woos Japanese games to West with $50M fund

U.S. online games company wants to help localize and market Japanese titles, such as card-battle games, in North America and Europe, in return for a cut of the revenue.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

U.S. online games company Kabam has set up a US$50 million fund to help Japanese game developers break into the North American and European markets.

In return for a share of the revenue, the fund will help Japanese game companies export popular titles in various ways, with assistance such as localizing and translation, marketing, and analytics to improve game performance, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Kabam CEO Kevin Chou said Japanese game developers who partner with his company can double their revenue, and it will use its money to promote its partner games heavily. "We're putting our money where our mouth is," he said in the report.

The fund from San Francisco-based Kabam now puts it in direct competition with Japanese game companies Gree and DeNA, which are eyeing global expansion into foreign markets, the report noted. They earlier tried consolidating the mobile and social games market within Japan via partnerships and acquisitions.

Kabam has launched a US$50 million fund to attract Japanese game developers to bring their titles to North American and European markets.

According to the report, Kabam said it sees an opportunity to bring the types of games that are popular in Japan, such as card-battle games, to a Western audience. DeNA already had some success bringing Rage of Bahamut, a fantasy card-battle game, to the U.S. The game was developed by Japan's Cygames and published on DeNA's Mobage platform. Mobage is a Japanese abbreviation of "mobile game".

However, Kabam believes it has an advantage over rivals such as DeNA and Gree, because of its greater expertise in both U.S. and European markets, as well as relationships with tech and Web giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Yahoo. Japanese game companies may have longer track record of success, but those are limited to Japan, it said.

The U.S. company added it is more willing to forego claims to intellectual property (IP) rights of third-party games, the report said.

According to the company, Kabam does not plan to take a smaller share of revenue than the standard 30 percent that Gree and DeNA collect.

Kabam is a privately-held company with 600 employees, and its investors include Google and Intel. It found massive success with its game, Kingdoms of Camelot, one of the best-performing games on the Apple App Store.

Company revenue last year was US$180 million, a 70 percent increase from 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported. It started out developing its own game titles, before signing up outside developers, which number at six so far.

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