GSN Games announces acquisition of Bingo Bash creator Bash Gaming

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GSN Games has announced its acquisition of Bingo Bash creator Bash Gaming (formerly BitRhymes). Bingo Bash has over 2.7 million monthly active users (MAU) on Facebook (according to AppData), and is also available on iOS, Android and Kindle devices. With this acquisition, GSN Games says it will reach a MAU count of nearly 10 million players.

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Hasbro purchases majority stake in Backflip Studios

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In the interest of strengthening its mobile gaming offerings, Hasbro has purchased a majority stake in Backflip Studios, best known for games such as Paper Toss, DragonVale and NinJump.

As announced on its blog, Backflip Studios will remain based in Boulder, CO and will continue to be run by its current management team. It will continue to operate normally, supporting its current IP as well as developing new titles for the future. The studio will also have the opportunity to use Hasbro’s robust brand catalog of board games and toys.

Hasbro has paid $112 million in cash transactions for 70 percent of the company. (more…)

High 5 Games acquires Electrotank in aqui-hire deal

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High 5 Games has announced that it has acquired game studio, Electrotank, Inc from its company blog. The terms of the acquisition have High 5 Games claiming all of Electrotank’s assets and intellectual property as well as welcome the Electrotank team to the company.

The two companies have worked together in the past with Electrotank assisting in bringing High 5 Games land-based slot games onto the Facebook gaming platform.

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With Pet Society’s Closure, What Happens to Playfish?

playfish_blue_650When Electronic Arts purchased Playfish in late 2009 for $400 million, the social game startup was riding high with millions of monthly active users across Facebook games like Restaurant City, Pet Society, and Country Story. Just three and a half years later, the company is all but nonexistent, as its final original game, Pet Society, will be shut down on June 14.

Facebook game closures are nothing new, but typically, developers release new games as they shutter underperforming titles. With Playfish, and in fact most of EA’s social division, it seems as though the Facebook platform is being abandoned entirely (The Sims Social and SimCity Social are also being closed this month, as we reported earlier). What does this mean for Playfish’s future? (more…)

Kabam announces Fast & Furious 6 mobile game

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Kabam today announced it will develop a free-to-play Fast & Furious 6 mobile game to release alongside the movie May 24. The game will feature various competitive street racing modes with cars from such manufacturers as BMW, Honda, Dodge and Ford.

The announcement comes the morning after Super Bowl XLVII, during which the first trailer for the Fast & Furious 6 movie aired.

Kabam is developing the game in its newly acquired Vancouver, Canada studio, Exploding Barrel Games, which is staffed by developers with experience in the racing genre. Exploding Barrel Founder and CEO Scott Blackwood, who will head the project, previously worked as an Executive Producer at Electronic Arts, contributing to many Need for Speed titles as well as the Skate series.

Recently, Kabam has seen a lot of success in games based on popular movies. Last year Kabam and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment partnered to co-publish The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth for mobile devices. The game became the fastest growing title in Kabam history, becoming one of the top ten grossing apps on iOS in 50 countries in two months. Kabam’s The Godfather: Five Families, which is developed in partnership with Paramount Pictures, is one of seven Kabam games that grosses more than $1 million per month.

Exploding Barrel Games is Kabam’s first acquisition of 2013

Two weeks into the new year, Kabam has already acquired a new studio: Exploding Barrel Games from Vancouver, British Columbia.

Like so many of Kabam’s acquisitions to date, Exploding Barrel Games is a developer targeting core gamers with its titles, with veterans of iconic game franchises like SSX and Need for Speed comprising its ranks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The 30-plus person studio will stay in Vancouver’s Gastown district, where it’s currently working on two unannounced games and just launched the robot artillery game Blastron in the Canadian iTunes store. Prior to this, the company had published Top Bar on its own, as well as Margaritaville Online for THQ; the studio’s been working on perfecting 3D technology in the browser window. Exploding Barrel Games was founded in 2009 by President Scott Blackwood (pictured at right with Kabam CEO Kevin Chou) after he left Electronic Arts (where he’d been since the 1990s and worked on iconic franchises like Need for Speed, 007 and Skate).

Until now, the company’s been bootstrapped. Although Blackwood notes other groups have “kicked the tires” of his company, he says Kabam made the first serious offer for an acquisition.

Kabam’s VP of Corporate Communications Steve Swasey tells us the acquisition happened not just because Exploding Barrel Games looked good on paper, but because it was a cultural match for Kabam. He also noted how the studio’s leadership, with its rich history with console and 3D games, made it appealing to Kabam.

As we’ve noted recently, British Columbia is quickly becoming a hotbed of game development activity between Vancouver and Victoria. Kixeye recently opened an office in Victoria, where KANO/APPS is also located, while Vancouver is home to groups like Slant Six Games and East Side Games.

Although headquartered in San Francisco, Kabam now has development studios in Beijing, Texas and (now) Vancouver. The company is hiring developers and designers for all of these locations. Blackwood noted that Exploding Barrel Games is still expanding its team and taking applications, but is looking to grow the studio at a measured pace.

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