Disney buys game developer Studio Ex

Mobile games business especially hot in Korea

As Disney’s interactive unit focuses on producing games for social networking sites and mobile platforms, the company has acquired South Korean game developer Studio Ex.

Financial terms of the stock-based deal were not disclosed for the company run by David Moon, former director of NHN, a popular gaming site in Asia.

Disney is expected to turn to the developer to pump out more titles geared for the Mouse House’s younger audience, especially when it comes to free-to-play games, popular on mobile devices like iPads and smartphones. For now, company will focus on the Asian market.

Mobile games are a massive business in Korea. Top publishers including Com2U and Gamevil generate a majority of their revenue from smartphones, a segment also growing Stateside. Disney has a partnership to create Marvel-themed games for the Asian market with Korean game developer Smilegate and will launch “Zipi Racing” with Zipi Studio there. Title will include characters from “Cars” and “Toy Story.”

In South Korea, the mobile games biz is expected to grow by double digits through 2017, according to research firm Nomura. Through subscription and app sales, the South Korean market is projected to increase 38% next year to generate $422 million and grow another 25% in 2014 to $533 million. Mobile games collected nearly $191 million last year.

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