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Disney sells ‘Marvel Strike Force’ game studio FoxNext

Walt Disney Co. corporate headquarters in Burbank.
Walt Disney Co. corporate headquarters in Burbank.
(Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

Walt Disney Co. is selling video game studio FoxNext in the latest example of the Burbank entertainment company trimming assets it acquired from 21st Century Fox.

Disney is selling FoxNext Games Los Angeles, known for titles including mobile game “Marvel Strike Force,” to Culver City game maker Scopely, the companies said Wednesday. Scopely is also buying San Jose gaming subsidiary Cold Iron Studios from Disney.

Financial terms were not immediately available.

FoxNext Games was one of the companies Disney inherited as part of its $71.3-billion purchase of 21st Century Fox in March. Since then, there have been layoffs at various Fox and Disney units as the companies combined their operations.

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FoxNext became a player in the mobile gaming business in 2017, when it acquired Los Angeles- and San Francisco-based studio Aftershock. That acquisition was part of a larger initiative for the studio to innovate in growing areas of entertainment, including games and virtual reality.

As expected, Disney has gradually made moves to shed the Fox brand from the assets it acquired last year. The studio recently renamed film and TV studio 20th Century Fox, which will now be known as 20th Century Studios. Fox Searchlight, the respected specialty film brand responsible for multiple best picture Oscar winners, including “The Shape of Water,” is now called Searchlight Pictures.

Scopely’s acquisition of FoxNext does not include the separate portfolio of licensed game titles based on Fox intellectual property, which will continue to be a part of Disney’s licensed games business, the companies said. The deal also does not include FoxNext’s virtual reality business, which has created experiences based on franchises including “Alien.”

For Scopely, which was founded in 2011 in Koreatown, the deal adds to its growing portfolio of games, which includes “Star Trek Fleet Command,” “Looney Tunes World of Mayhem,” “WWE Champions” and “The Walking Dead: Road To Survival.” Scopely last year raised $200 million, putting the company’s valuation at $1.7 billion, to fuel acquisitions.

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“Marvel Strike Force” launched in March 2018 and generated more than $150 million in sales in its first year, the companies said. FoxNext is also developing “Avatar: Pandora Rising,” a massively multiplayer strategy game based on James Cameron’s blockbuster film, which Fox produced.

“We have been hugely impressed with the incredible game the team at FoxNext Games has built with ‘Marvel Strike Force’ and can’t wait to see what more we can do together,” said Tim O’Brien, chief revenue officer at Scopely.

FoxNext Games President Aaron Loeb will join Scopely in a newly created, unspecified executive role. Amir Rahimi, FoxNext Games senior vice president and general manager, will lead the FoxNext studio as president of games.

Nearly 200 FoxNext Games employees are expected to join Scopely after the purchase, along with about 50 workers in San Jose. The deal will increase Scopely’s staff to more than 800 globally.


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