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Four Western studios and new U.S. boss for Japanese hit-maker Gumi

Four Western studios and new U.S. boss for Japanese hit-maker Gumi

August 21, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

You may not have heard of Gumi, but it's a big name in the Japanese mobile game market -- the most lucrative in the world. The Tokyo-based studio closed $50 million in new funding last month; earlier this month, popular Japanese chat and games platform LINE acquired a 10 percent stake in the company.

Gumi is using its new money to open studios in Austin, Texas; Vancouver, Canada; Stockholm, Sweden; and Kiev, Ukraine, which will be tasked with developing games for Western markets. The company is also opening an office in San Francisco to handle biz dev and PR.

The company already has 30 games in development before this expansion of its operations.

Gumi has hired former Microsoft Game Studios GM AJ Redmer (pictured) to spearhead its Western expansion. At Microsoft, Redmer oversaw much of its games business in both the U.S. and later in Asia. He was most recently CEO of Korean online game company WeMade's U.S. office.

"As we have already done with our studios in Asia, we've set out to build studios in key regions with the best talent and domain expertise to produce original content that is relevant to local markets in the West," said Gumi CEO Hironao Kunimitsu, in a statement.

Redmer told TechCrunch that the company plans "a hands-on, homegrown approach to North America and building our presence brick by brick" rather than acquiring existing studios.

Gumi is a bona-fide hit maker in its home market; its Chain Chronicles franchise made Sega over $70 million in just nine months, inspiring the publisher to expand the series and also bring it to the West. Another big title for Gumi is Brave Frontier, which the company says has been downloaded 10 million times.

Gumi raised more than $25 million in a 2011 funding round, after raising $7 million initially.

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