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Japanese Social Gaming Giant DeNA To Buy Ngmoco For $400 Million

Japanese Social Gaming Giant DeNA To Buy Ngmoco For $400 Million

October 12, 2010 | By Simon Parkin

October 12, 2010 | By Simon Parkin

DeNA, the Japanese social gaming platform is set to buy Ngmoco, the iPhone game publisher behind Rolando and Topple, for $400 million. The acquisition, first rumored last week, was approved today by DeNA's board and will close officially in the next few weeks, the company said.

Speaking to the New York Times, founder and chief executive of DeNA, Tomoko Namba said: "The big tide in social gaming is coming, right now. We'd like to capture it and quickly become the world's No. 1 mobile gaming platform."

"We're only active in the Japanese market," she continued, "and we haven't figured out how to cover the Western market. We want to enable developers to go cross-device, and to go cross-border. And we need this to happen quickly, in about the next one or two years."

This deal is the latest in a number of recent western acquisitions for the Japanese firm, which announced that it would invest in two other U.S.-based game developers, Astro Ape and Gameview in the last month. in 2009, DeNA bought IceBreaker, a U.S. game studio, and acquired a 20 percent stake in Aurora Feint, another iOS game platform developer.

DeNA is aggressively pursuing the mobile social games market, launching its Mobage service in Japan last week in conjunction with Yahoo! and promising a slew of high-profile titles on the platform before the end of the year, including a third installment in Sega's Shenmue series.

The company's projected revenue for 2010 is on par with estimates at Facebook. DeNA secured sales circa 48 billion yen ($575 million) in the year leading up to March and claims it will double that figure this fiscal year to over $1 billion. Analyst forecasts for Facebook's 2010 turnover range from $1 billion to $1.75 billion.

DeNA plans to integrate its Mobage software with Ngmoco's Plus+, a social networking platform which runs on both Apple devices and smartphones that operate on Google's Android system. The move shows the company's belief that social gaming will increasingly be dominated by mobile platforms.

Ngmoco was formed in 2008 by former Electronic Arts executive Neil Young, who chose to place the company's focus on the iPhone games market, rather than social media platforms such as Facebook, where rival Zynga has found widespread success. This new global platform will allow developers access to both Apple and Android users, said Young.

"Whether you're a developer in Japan working on a Mobage, or you're a developer in the West making apps, you'll be able to work with us, and your games will be able to move across borders and move across devices," Mr. Young said.

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