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balanced worlds

In a big expansion, social-mobile gaming firm Kabam has acquired China’s Balanced Worlds Studios game development house.

The deal gives San Francisco-based Kabam a significant foothold in the fast-growing Asian social game market. The Beijing-based Balanced Worlds Studios specializes in action-oriented 3D social games. Terms of the deal are not available.

Kabam grew up as a maker of social games on Facebook, and it generated more than $100 million in revenues in 2011. But it has begun to expand into mobile and other markets.

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Three seasoned developers head Balanced Worlds: chief executive Christopher Pfeiffer, chief operating officer Alexander Ronalds, and chief technology officer Maxim Garber. They relocated to China in 2006 to tap into Asia’s burgeoning social games development community. During the summer, it released the 3D action game Bomb Buddies.

In the past, the trio has worked on games such as Resistance: Fall of Man, Ratchet & Clank, Red Faction, Descent, the Greg Norman Ultimate Challenge Golf series, Spy Hunter, and the NHL Faceoff series.

“The Balanced Worlds team brings a strong discipline and creative flare in 3D game development that will complement Kabam’s expanding portfolio of games,” said Kabam Studios president Andrew Sheppard. “By merging Balanced Worlds’ expertise into Kabam’s already robust studio in Beijing, Kabam will continue to diversify its mobile offerings beyond the enormously popular strategy games Kabam is known for.”

“Our shared vision of high-quality core 3D mobile games is perfectly aligned,” Pfeiffer said. “The Balanced Worlds team is proud to become a highly productive part of Kabam’s amazingly successful mobile-focused studio in Beijing.”

Kabam previously opened a Beijing studio in May 2010. Kabam cofounder Mike Li heads that studio, and it recently created The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth in partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game is timed to launch with the opening of the first film in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy on Dec. 14. Balanced Worlds’ team of 17 will relocate to the Kabam facility in Beijing, bringing the number of Kabam employees in Beijing to more than 90.

Since 2010, Kabam has acquired WonderHill, Fearless Studios, Gravity Bear, and Wild Shadow Studios. In addition to its San Francisco headquarters and Beijing operations, Kabam has customer service and corporate offices in Luxembourg and Germany, and this year it opened a development studio in Austin, Texas. Kabam is hiring developers and designers in all of its studio locations.

Pfeiffer said, “Life in China imitates the art of game creation. The feeling of continual progress is intoxicating.”

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