Terms of the pact were not disclosed. Under the terms of the pact, Scopely is acquiring FoxNext Games Los Angeles, the game studio behind hit game “Marvel Strike Force,” and San Jose-based Cold Iron Studios, which FoxNext bought in 2018.
FoxNext Games Los Angeles released its debut title “Marvel Strike Force” in March 2018, and the role-playing game has become one of the top mobile games on iOS and Android, bringing in more than $150 million in its first year. The studio is also developing “Avatar: Pandora Rising,” a massively multiplayer strategy game based on James Cameron’s “Avatar” movie.
The acquisition does not include the separate portfolio of Fox intellectual property licensed games titles, which will continue to be a part of Disney’s licensed games business.
The deal is expected to close in the next few weeks. FoxNext Games has a little under 200 employees in its L.A. studio, said Tim O’Brien, chief revenue officer at Scopely.
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“We have been hugely impressed with the incredible game the team at FoxNext Games has built with ‘Marvel Strike Force’ and can’t wait to see what more we can do together,” O’Brien said. He declined to discuss the purchase price but said, “It’s a great deal for Scopely and aligns perfectly with our M&A strategy.”
Following the close of the transaction, Scopely plans to sell Cold Iron Studios, O’Brien told Variety. That’s because Cold Iron is developing PC and console games, whereas Scopely is squarely focused on mobile games. About 50 employees work at Cold Iron, which is developing an “Alien” shooter game.
Disney has publicly said it doesn’t want to be in the game-studio business, in favor of a model of licensing its IP to other publishers and developers. Word surfaced last year that Disney was looking to sell FoxNext Games. In November 2018, Disney entered into a deal with mobile-games studio Jam City to develop titles based on Pixar and Walt Disney Animation franchises and shut down its games studio group in Glendale, Calif. (and some of those employees joined Jam City).
Scopely, founded in 2011, last fall announced a $200 million Series D funding round, bringing it to $458 million raised to date — and execs said they would be looking to buy up other game properties. The fundraise more than doubled Scopely’s valuation to approximately $1.7 billion.
Scopely says it has generated more than $1 billion in lifetime revenue. The company’s top-grossing games include “Star Trek Fleet Command” (created by Dublin-based DIGIT Game Studios, which Scopely bought last year), “Looney Tunes World of Mayhem,” “WWE Champions 2019,” “The Walking Dead: Road To Survival,” “Yahtzee With Buddies” and “Wheel of Fortune: Free Play.”
Upon completion of Scopely’s acquisition of FoxNext Games, Aaron Loeb, president of FoxNext Games, is set to join Scopely in a newly created executive role and Amir Rahimi, FoxNext Games senior VP and GM, will lead the FoxNext Games Los Angeles studio within Scopely as president, games.
Variety’s “Strictly Business” podcast spoke with Scopely CEO Walter Driver in 2019. Listen here:
“I’m extremely proud of what our talented team at FoxNext Games has built and accomplished in just a few years, and look forward to joining forces with the impressive team at Scopely, who have a well-deserved reputation as one of the preeminent companies in the free-to-play games arena,” Loeb said in a statement.
Rahimi added, “Both FoxNext Games and Scopely are committed to bringing beloved worlds to life through interactive gaming experiences designed to be played for years to come, and we believe this shared focus, coupled with our businesses’ unique strengths and Scopely’s expertise across multiple game genres, will lead to even greater success in the future.”
LionTree Advisors is acting as financial adviser to Disney, with Moelis & Co. acting as financial adviser to Scopely.