Mobile gaming app maker Kabam opens shop in L.A.

TapZen, Magic Pixel Games acquired by Kabam

Mobile game developer and publisher Kabam Inc. is opening a studio in Los Angeles after acquiring a pair of local start-ups, the company announced Tuesday.

Kabam has created mobile gaming apps for films including "The Hunger Games," "Fast & Furious" and "Lord of the Rings." And filmmakers are pushing more of their titles into the gaming space, so the chance to be closer to Hollywood made sense for San Francisco-based Kabam. The company's investors include Warner Bros., Alibaba, MGM and Google.

Kabam's latest acquisitions are TapZen and Magic Pixel Games. The start-ups had teamed up to build the strategy game "This Means War," which launched to a tepid response in the summer.

The new Los Angeles studio is expected to continue to work on strategy games, Kabam said. The office will be led by TapZen founder Mike Verdu. Until 2012, he served as chief creative officer and co-president of games at Zynga, the gamemaker that saw a large exodus of employees after struggling to match the success of "FarmVille."

“Joining Kabam was an opportunity we could not pass up,” Verdu said in a statement. “I’ve been impressed at how Kabam has quickly become a leader in the free-to-play games space, and I look forward to helping the team drive the evolution of mobile games into the next generation.”

Tapzen had raised $18 million in venture capital, according to research firm PitchBook. Kabam, which describes itself as profitable, has brought in more than $240 million in funding. The most recent investment, from Alibaba last summer, valued the start-up at $1 billion.

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