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Netmarble completes acquisition of Kabam’s Marvel Contest of Champions studio

Marvel Contest of Champions

South Korea’s Netmarble Games said today that it has completed the acquisition of Kabam‘s high-value assets.

As previously disclosed, the deal includes the Kabam Vancouver studio, which makes the Marvel Contest of Champions title. That team consists of 180 developers. Netmarble is also picking up around 20 people in the Kabam headquarters teams in San Francisco, and another 40 or so among the customer support teams based in Kabam Austin.

Tim Fields, the new CEO of Kabam Games, as the Vancouver studio will now be known, said in an interview with GamesBeat that Netmarble will operate Kabam Games as a wholly owned subsidiary.

“We are excited about taking this new incarnation of Kabam forward,” Fields said.

Through the acquisition, Netmarble grows its portfolio of games with the addition of Kabam’s Marvel Contest of Champions, a consistent performer on the App Store and Google Play’s Top 10 grossing charts with nearly $500 million in revenue, and the upcoming Transformers: Forged to Fight, scheduled to launch in second quarter.

Characters in Marvel: Contest of Champions

Above: Characters in Marvel: Contest of Champions

Image Credit: Kabam

“We’re excited to welcome Kabam to the Netmarble family and support their continued success in the competitive mobile games marketplace,” said Seungwon Lee, Chief Global Officer of Netmarble Games, in a statement. “The acquisition is a perfect fit. Kabam has a proven track record of developing games based on iconic entertainment brands, powered by state-of-the-art technology and managed by an incredibly talented team. It’s a winning combination, and together we’ll continue Netmarble’s expansion across Western markets.”

Kabam Games will focus on creating and operating free-to-play games, Fields said. Netmarble

BofA Merrill Lynch served as financial advisor and O’Melveny & Myers, LLP served as legal advisor to Kabam, Inc. Ropes & Gray LLP served as legal advisor to Netmarble Games.

Netmarble did not buy a large part of Kabam, including the company’s Los Angeles studio which is working on a massively multiplayer mobile game based on James Cameron’s Avatar film. The Los Angeles studio is also working on a new unannounced title.

That part of Kabam, which will be spun off as an independent company, will be known as Aftershock. Netmarble has about 3,500 employees, and one of its Marvel Future Fight title is one of its major games. Fields said that Netmarble’s title has a bigger audience in South Korea, while Kabam’s Marvel Contest of Champions is big in the rest of the world, Fields said.

Kabam Games has launched Marvel Contest of Champions in China, and it retired its earlier title, dubbed Manwe, that was a customized version for the Chinese market. But Kabam Games is not likely to launch its Marvel Contest of Champions title in South Korea, Fields said.

The amount of the Kabam Games purchased was not disclosed. As for Aftershock, Fields said, “There are ongoing discussions about spinning off the rest of Kabam as Aftershock.”

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