GREE buys Crime City developer Funzio for $210 million

By Kathleen De Vere Comment

Japanese mobile social game network GREE has bought Funzio, the developer behind the popular mid-core mobile and social games Crime City, Kingdom Age and Modern War. According to a GREE spokesperson, the deal was worth $210 million.

As part of the deal Funzio’s CEO Ken Chiu and COO Anil Dharni will join GREE as senior vice presidents. Funzio’s CTO Ram Gudavalli and VP of engineering Andy Keidel will become vice presidents at GREE.

The acquisition is GREE’s biggest since April 2011, when the company bought OpenFeint for $104 million in order to bring its lucrative mobile social gaming network to North America.

Although GREE’s global gaming network won’t launch until sometime this summer, GREE has been busy expanding the service’s game lineup. In the past three months the company has signed content partnerships with Crowdstar, iWin, Ubisoft, Gameloft, and high profile Chinese developers like Haypi, Hoolai and PunchBox. GREE has also made strategic investments in companies like Japan’s Wizcorp and Vancouver’s IUGO Mobile.

GREE has also released two first-party games in North America, the card-battle game Zombie Jombie and casual-focused title Alien Family. While GREE’s mobile social network and its games have been extremely successful in Japan, so far the company’s offerings haven’t seen the same level of success in North America.  According to our traffic tracking service AppData, Zombie Jombie and Alien Family are currently the No. 111 and No. 383 top grossing iPhone apps.

It’s likely GREE decided to buy, rather than invest in Funzio in order to bring a developer with a proven track-record in the North American market in-house. In late 2010, rival DeNA made two similar deals, acquiring Ngmoco and Gameview Studios.

Funzio currently has three games in the top 25 grossing iPhone apps chart, Crime City at No. 9, Modern War at No. 16 and Kingdom Age at No. 25. Crime City is also currently the No. 12 top grossing Android App in the Google Play store. Funzio games are also available on Google+ and Facebook.

In 2011 Funzio raised a $20 million round of Series A funding lead by IDG Ventures and IDG Capital Partners. It had been rumored the company was in the early stages of raising a second round that would have valued it at over $350 million, but it appears GREE stepped up before any other offers solidified.