GREE acquires App Ant Studios, will look to push card battle games into the West

September 18, 2012
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Westerners sometimes get the feeling that the entire technology world revolves around them, but that’s not always true. Take GREE, for example, a hugely popular mobile social gaming giant over in Asia that is virtually unknown in the States and Europe.

GREE is currently sitting on a genuine gold mine, having a $4.7 billion annual turnover and over 24 million users across the Asian continent. And while such numbers would be satisfying enough for any regular Joe, GREE has decided to expand and is now finally looking towards the West.

The U.S. gaming market is however a tough nut to crack, so the Tokyo-based company is looking to strengthen its developing team before anything. After buying out social mobile gaming platform OpenFeint for $104 million back in April 2011 and mobile game developer Funzio for $210 million in May 2012, GREE has now announced the acquisition of App Ant Studios.

California-based App Ant was co-founded by Brian Frederick and Paul Pierre, both veterans of Mobile Social Gaming who have previously worked for major names in the industry like Electronic Arts or Yahoo. App Ant’s developing team had previously worked with GREE at Android games like Dino Life, so the acquisition doesn’t come as a big surprise.

It’s also not very surprising to hear that all members of the App Ant team will be joining GREE’s newly founded in-house San Francisco gaming studio, and that the former firm’s bosses and founders will take up “leadership roles” at the parent company.

“The team at App Ant Studios has continually impressed us with the quality of its engineering, art, and overall product.” said GREE CEO Naoki Aoyagi after the buyout, adding that “they share the same strong passion GREE has for mobile social gaming…” and that “with our constantly growing and evolving mobile game market, having such exceptional talent on board to build great experiences for the latest hardware is a huge priority for us.”

Unlike GREE’s previous “investments” in new talent, App Ant’s acquisition hasn’t been detailed just yet, so we don’t know how much money the Japanese company had had to spend this time around. We also don’t know exactly what are GREE’s plans for its U.S. and Europe forays, though it’s obvious the social gaming giant will be looking to make Westerners more interested in card battle and simulation games that are currently not that popular in this part of the world.

If we were to take Aoyagi’s statements by the letter, we would also expect something more graphically impressive to take advantage of the “latest hardware”, but we wouldn’t get our hopes up just yet.

Anyone excited about GREE’s Android intentions for the States and Europe? Do card battle games sound like a blast from the future or the past to you?

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