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Kabam is announcing today that it is taking its Marvel: Contest of Champions action-fighting mobile game to China, one of the largest markets in the world. It has already been downloaded more than 30 million times since it was released last year — and with the hundreds of millions of gamers in China, it could find even more success in a market that’s mad for American brands like The Avengers, Spider-Man, and other heroes.

Among a million apps in the Apple iTunes App Store, Marvel: Contest of Champions is No. 15 in the top-grossing list today, and it’s ranked high for months.

Kabam has had a development studio in Beijing since 2011, and that studio is doing the “culturalization” effort for the Marvel title, with support from Vancouver. The Beijing studio created hits such as The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth, and Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North. Each of those generated more than $100 million over the past four years.

Kabam CEO Kevin Chou announced plans to launch the game at the Mobile Games Forum in Hong Kong today. Chou declined to say which Chinese publishing partner will distribute the game, but Kabam is actively negotiating with potential publishers, and Chou said Kabam will name the company soon.


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San Francisco-based Kabam launched Marvel: Contest of Champions in North America and Europe in December 2014, now available for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android devices. The title was downloaded more than 20 million times in its first six weeks.

I interviewed Kent Wakeford, chief operating officer, about the announcement this afternoon. He said of the 30 million figure, “It’s a tremendous milestone that reflects the quality of the game and the strength of the intellectual property.”

Regarding China, he said, “China is the largest and fastest growing market in the world. There’s no denying the growth and the opportunity in China. We announced late last year we were making very strategic moves to enter the market, and the Marvel game is our strategic entry point.”

He added, “Marvel is a top-grossing mobile game around the world, and it is one of the world’s most recognizable brands. Add to that the action role-playing game genre, and it is a title that we believe will resonate with Chinese consumers.”

He said the company is in active negotiations with Chinese publishers and it would announce a decision on the publisher soon.

Marvel: Contest of Champions

Above: Marvel: Contest of Champions

Image Credit: Kabam

“Marvel Contest of Champions stays true to classic Marvel storytelling with big threats, heroic moments, and shocking revelations wrapped into a game that is not only easy to pick-up and play, but is also fun,” said Cuz Parry, Kabam’s creative director for Marvel Contest of Champions, said when Kabam launched the game. “The development team is a huge fan of Marvel, and we’re proud to deliver an epic game that we know fans will love to play.”

In the game, players build and manage a team of Super Heroes and Super Villains from across the Marvel Universe.

Marvel Contest of Champions players build and manage a team of Super Heroes and Super Villains from across the Marvel universe. The game was developed by Kabam’s Vancouver studio and written by Marvel comics writer Sam Humphries (The Legendary Star-Lord).

The player assumes the role of Earth’s representative in a cosmic battle organized by The Collector against Super Villains such as Kang the Conqueror and Thanos.

“This is one of our fastest-growing titles, and we are in the very early innings for the life of this game,” Wakeford said. “We have new characters, features, and environments to be rolled out over the next year.”

Wakeford said, “If you marry a world-class IP brand with AAA game play, that is a winning combination.”

Kabam received a $120 million investment last year led by China’s Alibaba that valued Kabam at more than $1 billion. The company has more than 800 employees.

Investors include Alibaba, Canaan Partners, Google, MGM, Intel, Pinnacle Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Warner Brothers and others.

Characters in Marvel: Contest of Champions

Above: Characters in Marvel: Contest of Champions

Image Credit: Kabam

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