RIM Buys Scoreloop as a Streak of Mobile Gaming Network Acquisitions Continues

By Kim-Mai Cutler Comment

Blackberry-maker Research in Motion said it acquired European mobile gaming network Scoreloop for an undisclosed amount today.

The Canadian handset maker says Scoreloop’s team will become part of Blackberry developer outreach and help build gaming toolkits to attract developers to the platform, which is sorely in need of ways to compete with the more than 420,000 apps available on iOS and the 200,000 on Android.

“As part of RIM, we’ll be in a unique position to integrate deeply into Blackberry platforms to take mobile gaming to the next level together,” wrote Marc Gumpinger, Scoreloop’s chief executive. “We’ll continue our cross-platform approach but you’ll see that our Blackberry solution will be unparalleled.”

Scoreloop offers an SDK to developers that helps them integrate competitive leaderboards and social features so that players can share their gaming habits with friends. It also aggregates payment providers and helps developers track consumer purchases of virtual goods and currency.

The purchase marks yet another deal in a string of strategic mobile gaming network acquisitions. DeNA bought ngmoco:), the maker of a Plus+ gaming network, for up to $403 million in October. Then another Japanese gaming giant GREE bought OpenFeint for $104 million for $104 million in April. Game publisher Chillingo, which was acquired by Electronic Arts last October, also has a gaming network called Crystal.

In and of themselves, it can be difficult for mobile gaming networks to monetize the social leaderboards and features they provide to individual developers. Android monetization is still in its infancy and Apple retains control over in-app purchases of virtual currency on the iOS platform. Although OpenFeint says it reaches 90 million registered users, it produced a net loss of $6.6 million last year and earned a modest $282,500 — largely in iTunes affiliate revenue from driving downloads of apps. This isn’t stopping strategic acquirers like RIM, DeNA and GREE from seeing potential in these companies to bolster their own platforms and attract developers.

Scoreloop, which has raised $2.8 million to date, was founded in Munich, Germany.