Kabam will seek to sell the rest of its assets next year, including its studios in Los Angeles, Beijing and San Francisco.
In a statement issued to GamesIndustry.biz, the prominent mobile publisher spelled out what the press materials around the sale of its Vancouver studio only suggested: that the deal with Netmarble, believed to be worth around $800 million, is the first step in a longer process that will result in the entire company being sold.
"Kabam has made the decision to sell Netmarble its Vancouver studio, the Customer Support teams from our Austin office, and parts of Marketing, User Acquisition and Business Development from our San Francisco & London offices," a representative from Kabam said. "Following the close of the transaction with Netmarble, we will explore selling the rest of the company, which includes studios in Los Angeles, Beijing and San Francisco."
This is a surprising change in direction for Kabam, which made bold statements this year regarding its future product strategy. In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz in August, CEO Kevin Chou described the company as entering the latter stages of a "multi-year transition" that has involved restructuring the entire business and cutting staff on several occasions. The aim was to refocus the company around a smaller number of bigger products, with Chou touting budgets as high as $25 million a game for both production and marketing.
"If you can afford to make that type of investment and are smart about how you put it to market, you still have the ability to make several hundred million a year in revenue, and have that go for five years," he said.
"We actually think these games are going to be out for the next 10 years, and it's a great payoff, right? Marvel [Contest of Champions] wasn't a full current-gen tech game for us, so it was in the many single digits of millions to produce that game, not $14 million. But it's well on track to do over $1 billion in total lifetime revenue. The math will work out just fine."
Ultimately, though, Kabam sold its Vancouver studio before the products created under this new way of thinking hit the market. Transformers: Forged to Fight, developed in Vancouver, will now be released by Netmarble, and the company has frequently mentioned as many as seven projects being in development. Among those is a game based on James Cameron's Avatar film franchise, currently being made at the company's Los Angeles office, which now also faces being sold.