Red Robot enters Asia with $5 million investment from Taiwan’s Next Media

Red Robot Labs is expanding to Asia, announcing today it has inked a deal with Next Media that will see the Taiwanese conglomerate invest $5 million in Red Robot and license the company’s proprietary R2 geo gaming platform. Next Media’s subsidiary, Next Media Animation will be the first third-party developer to license the engine.

Although Next Media Animation isn’t a game developer (the company is best known in the U.S. for its computer animated news spoofs) according to Red Robot’s co-founder and chief executive officer Mike Ouye, the two companies actually share similar goals.

“When we decided to expand and partner in Asia, we wanted a partner who has a big distribution presence and the creative talent to build games on our platform,” he explains.

For its part, Next Media had been investigating the potential of location-based gaming, but only discovered what chairman Jimmy Lai refers to as “the right technology” after seeing the R2 engine in action.

While Red Robot is beginning to follow through on its plans to license the R2 engine to other developers, co-founder Pete Hawley says the company is still focused on creating first party games.

“I think it’s important to lead with a first party game in the same way Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony push the boundaries of what’s possible with Zelda, Halo and Gran Turismo,” he says. “Life is Crime has taught us a lot, good and bad about what works and what doesn’t in location gaming. Our next game is taking big leaps forward in a few ways that push that learning further.”

So far Life is Crime has been a success for Red Robot, succeeding where similar, location-based social games like CrowdMob’s Mob Empire have failed. The game has seen more than 3 million downloads between its Android and iOS versions and is currently the No. 16 top grossing Android app.  A localized version for Hong Kong is launching today in the territory’s Google Play store, and an iOS version is forthcoming. Red Robot and Next Media are planning upcoming simultaneous iOS and Android releases of the game in Japan and Taiwan.

With Next Media’s $5 million investment, Red Robot has now raised more than $15.5 million dollars in funding. The company is backed by Benchmark Capital, Shasta Ventures and well-known industry investors like Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson and Facebook’s former vice president of user growth Chamath Palihapitiya.