Kabam and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE), the game division of the big film company, have extended their partnership by announcing they will co-publish new mobile games based on The Lord of the Rings movies and the upcoming Mad Max film.
The deal builds on a successful partnership in which Kabam co-published free-to-play mobile game The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth, which generated more than $100 million in revenues. San Francisco-based Kabam is specializing in creating strategy games based on movie franchises, which can bring a lot of cachet to a title. That can be critical in helping a game rise above the pack in mobile, where discovery is a huge problem, as a single game has to compete against a million other titles in an app store.
The Lord of the Rings films have generated more than $4.9 billion in revenues from the box office on a worldwide basis, according to Box Office Mojo. The Mad Max movies generated more than $171 million. More movie awareness will be coming soon as WBIE is working on a major console game based on Mad Max as well.
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Kabam’s mobile games have been somewhat formulaic, and their 2D graphics are nothing to brag about, but they pay off. The Hobbit game follows the mold of Kabam’s successful Kingdoms of Camelot strategy game, which has grossed more than $250 million over the past four years. But it was still a spectacular success and is still going strong more than a year after its launch. I played it for more than a year myself, but I was recently booted from my clan for inactivity. Sigh.
But my own experience was telling. When you join a clan in a Kabam game, you make a commitment to help your teammates and grow. Sometimes, if you can’t grow fast enough, you have to spend money. I spent some money in the game, and I logged in every day. But that wasn’t enough to keep up with a lot of the other clan members in The Levellers. So I finally got dropped and decided that it was a good thing as it felt like I was getting off a treadmill.
That social pressure generates money for Kabam as there is no obligation to spend money in a free-to-play game. So Kabam’s games are hot not only because they are based on popular licenses but because they monetize well.
Warner Bros. has taken notice.
“Kabam’s demonstrated expertise is very impressive, and extending our partnership with their team will help both companies achieve continued success,” said WBIE executive vice president for publishing operations David Haddad in a statement. “Building two new mobile games based on well-known The Lord of the Rings and Mad Max brands is a strategic part of our growth.”
Kabam’s games have been published on mobile devices on the Apple iTunes App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore. They have also been published on the web via Facebook, Yahoo, and Kabam.com. Kabam says it is the fastest-growing Internet media company in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it had revenues of $360 million in 2013, up 100 percent from a year earlier.
“WBIE has been an amazing partner, and we look forward to building on our previous success with these strong franchises,” said Kabam chief operating officer Kent Wakeford. “Marquee brands like The Lord of the Rings and Mad Max are perfect for the deeply immersive and fun mobile games Kabam creates.”
Warner Bros. is one of Kabam’s investors. Others include Google, MGM, Intel, Canaan Partners, Redpoint Ventures, and Pinnacle Ventures. Kabam has more than 800 employees.