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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