Japan's Gree to buy U.S. mobile game maker Funzio for US$210 million

The Japanese mobile game provider will acquire games including "Crime City" and "Modern War"

Japanese mobile game provider Gree said Wednesday it will buy California-based developer Funzio for US$210 million.

The acquisition will allow Gree to add to its growing portfolio Funzio's game franchises, "Crime City," "Modern War," and "Kingdom Age," which have totalled over 20 million downloads worldwide. The Japanese company, which acquired game platform operator OpenFeint last year, is expanding aggressively toward its goal of 1 billion users. It had 190 million at the end of last year.

Funzio's games are free but charge for in-game currency. In Crime City, for instance, a "bag of gold" costs US$4.99, while a "vault of gold" is available for US$79.99. Many of Gree's other offerings also charge for in-game purchases, as well as generating revenue from advertising and its social platform.

Gree has mainly focused on mobile games until now, but Funzio has also expanded its titles to social networks Facebook and Google+, looking to leverage its success in Apple's iOS ecosystem.

Gree is putting the finishing touches on a new global gaming platform announced last year. The company has said the platform will go live by the end of June, unifying its existing APIs and allowing game developers to easily launch globally on iOS, Android or on the web. It will also allow the company to unify its social and advertising networks, which generate most of its profits.

The Japanese company is fueling its overseas ambition with strong income at home and a yen that is near record highs versus other currencies. For the fiscal year through June, it targets a net profit of at least ¥44 billion (US$550 million).

Gree is competing in the U.S. and other international markets with Japanese rival DeNA, which acquired mobile game firm ngmoco and has sealed deals with large carriers such as AT&T. The two companies have clashed in court over copyright infringements and the alleged blocking of developers from launching games on each others' platforms.

Funzio is based in San Francisco and has 100 employees, according to its web site. The company is funded by IDG Capital Partners, which is backed by International Data Group (IDG), the parent company of IDG News Service.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service

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