6Waves-Lolapps acquires Escalation Studios as it pushes into mobile gaming

By Kim-Mai Cutler Comment

6Waves-Lolapps is going more aggressively into mobile gaming by acquiring Escalation Studios, the gaming company it worked with to publish its two very first iOS games.

Escalation is a bootstrapped, five-year-old company out of Dallas that created Yeti Town and Splode, which 6Waves-Lolapps published last month. Splode Free is a music-and-color puzzle that challenges players’ sense of timing while Yeti Town is a game that’s essentially identical to Spry Fox’s Triple Town. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

“We started negotiating a publishing relationship, and we then realized we wanted to make them part of the family,” says Arjun Sethi, who is now the company’s chief product officer. (He was previously Lolapps’ chief executive before the company merged with 6Waves.)

Sethi tells us even though Escalation had a video gaming pedigree, the studio operated more like a highly iterative mobile-social gaming one.

“They looked like a web services-oriented company,” he says. “They’re not very much like a traditional studio. They get games out from a quality perspective, but they also leverage the data as fast as possible, which is pretty rare.”

At the same time, Escalation was looking for greater distribution and reach. The company had a previous publishing relationship with DeNA’s ngmoco, which released its game Dr. Awesome.

“We realized the 6L guys had most of what we wanted. They had a platform, worldwide distribution and so the conversation got steered away from publishing toward acquisition,” says Escalation’s Marc Tardif. The acquisition brings 6Waves-Lolapps’ headcount to 230 around U.S., Hong Kong, Japan and China.

6Waves-Lolapps is one of the last larger venture-backed social gaming companies to make the leap from Facebook to iOS. Zynga has Dream Zoo, Poker and more, while Crowdstar has Social Girl, Top Girl and Tower Town and Funzio has Crime City and Modern War. Germany’s wooga also brought Diamond Dash to iOS last year.