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Warner Bros. Opens San Francisco Game Studio

Studio will create free-to-play, mobile, social and browser-based games.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has opened the doors to WB Games San Francisco, a new development studio that will specialize in creating free-to-play, mobile, social and browser-based games.

Greg Ballard, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s senior VP of digital games, will head the studio.

“As our company has grown over the years, it has been a high priority to attract and cultivate creativity and innovation in top markets for game development around the world,” said Martin Tremblay, President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Announcement comes days before the Game Developers Conference kicks off in San Francisco, March 25, where 55% of its mostly indie gamemakers that attend say they are currently creating properties for smartphones and tablets, while 58% plan to release their next projects on the devices in the near future. Confab attracts over 20,000.

After focusing mostly on high-profile console-based games, like the “Lego” franchise, “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Batman: Arkham City,” as well as the reboot of “Mortal Kombat,” Warner Bros. also wants to tap into the growing mobile games biz.

An estimated 500 million people play mobile games worldwide, spending more than $9 billion last year, according to market research firm Newzoo. Sector grew 32% overall in 2012, with industry revenue up 16% in the U.S.

“The Bay Area is the home of social and mobile gaming and WB Games San Francisco is Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s opportunity to expand our game development capabilities into the epicenter of the digital world,” Ballard said.  “San Francisco is a hotbed of local talent and convenient access to major partners, and this will help us achieve our goal to bring our top entertainment and gaming brands, as well as original IP, to multiple mobile, social and emerging platforms.”

In addition to developing games, WB Games San Francisco will also oversee publishing of all other mobile games developed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The studio will be located in the same offices as Flixster.

WBIE also operates Monolith Prods (“Guardians of Middle-Earth”); NetherRealm Studios (“Mortal Kombat”); Rocksteady Studios (the “Arkham”-branded Batman series); TT Games (the “Lego” franchise); Turbine (“The Lord of the Rings Online”); WB Games (in Kirkland, Wash.); and WB Games Montreal.

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