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The move is part of a revival for Addicting Games, which has followed a winding road but is back as a maker of simple casual games you can play on the web or on mobile devices when you want to zone out or learn something new. It may sound too simple in this age of big-budget games, but Addicting Games draws more than 10 million players a month.
One of the ironies of the game business wheel is that Addicting Games, which was once bought and passed around, is now back in the business of acquisitions.
The Santa Monica, California-based company didn’t disclose the purchase price, but it did say the deal was more than “seven figures.” Mope.io is a top-down multiplayer animal survival game. The deal will make Mope.io an exclusive part of Addicting Games’ offerings and marks the latest chapter in the platform’s content growth strategy, following the success of its flagship hit title, LittleBigSnake, which is the No. 1 game in Indonesia, among other places.
Stan Tatarnykov developed Mope.io, which puts users in the role of a tiny creature surviving in a world of player-character helmed predators. Players forage for food, avoid getting eaten, and progress up the food chain, unlocking new abilities and eventually becoming an apex predator animal. The more powerful players get, the bigger the target on their backs.
This kind of game doesn’t grab headlines. Addicting Games CEO Bill “Kara” Karamouzis said in an interview that the deal is part of a plan to keep growing the company’s user base. Karamouzis said Mope.io has 65 million unique players on the web and 7 million on iOS and Android. Addicting Games will use its development resources and capital to improve the game’s features and optimize functionality to create a more in-depth and engrossing creature survival experience.
A long history
If Addicting Games sounds familiar, that’s because it has been around a long time. Karamouzis founded Addicting Games in 2000, when it also went by FPS Networks. The company was acquired by Atom Shockwave, one of the original makers of games based on Macromedia’s Shockwave and Flash players. It became part of Atom Entertainment.
In 2006, Viacom’s MTV Networks bought Atom Entertainment, including Shockwave and Addicting Games. Karamouzis stayed on for a while and then left to start a new company, Hallpass Media, a social gaming portal that was acquired in 2011 by MindJolt (the predecessor of Jam City). Karamouzis spent two years at Jam City before leaving to launch a new startup, TeachMe.com, which builds games around math and other educational topics.
“We learned a lot about analytics at Jam City and applied that to educational games,” Karamouzis said.
In 2014, Defy Media acquired GameTrailers, Addicting Games, and Shockwave from Viacom. But in 2018, Defy Media imploded.
“As they were imploding, I reached out to their CEO. And they had already fired their engineering team, and Shockwave was for sale,” Karamouzis said. “He said, ‘We can’t support it.’ We said, ‘We built this and so we don’t need any support. Just give it to us.’ They were heavily in debt and we were able to give them money to extend their runway for a couple of months.”
Karamouzis drove to the company in Beverly Hills, California. And he picked up a server that put Addicting Games (and Shockwave) back in business.
“One of their engineers brought a physical server out and put it in the trunk of my car, the same day that security took over the entire building,” Karamouzis said. “It was pretty crazy. It was the craziest acquisition we had done.”
The company now has more than 5,000 games from hundreds of independent developers. Since 2018, the company has been finding and publishing titles with promising developers. If they grow quickly, Addicting Games will buy them outright, as is happening with Mope.io. The company launches more than a dozen games a week. Most of them are HTML5 games, which can run on the web or on mobile devices, as the original Flash platform is dying off. Addicting Games has been converting many of the old Flash titles to HTML5.
“We’re working down the list,” Karamouzis said.
Addicting Games has a $1.5 million convertible note (a loan that can be converted into shares in the company) from Toronto-based Enthusiast Gaming and has used that to expand. The company has 21 employees now, is profitable, and will likely hit $5 million in revenues.
Titles include Fratboy Girlfriend TD, Pencil Racer, LittleBigSnake, and 50 States. Meanwhile, the TeachMe.com property had a big hit with its math game, MathGames.com, which schoolkids working on Chromebooks are now playing. The game is enjoying a resurgence during the pandemic, as kids are forced to learn on computers and TeachMe.com’s games can make learning math online fun. Roughly 80,000 kids played daily.
“We have this crazy home environment, and parents don’t have time to watch their kids the way a teacher would,” Karamouzis said.
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