DeNA snaps up iPhone game hitmaker ngmoco for $400 million


Japanese social gaming giant DeNA will acquire iPhone gaming startup ngmoco for up to $400 million in cash and securities, one of the largest deals ever for an iOS application developer. Per terms of the agreement, ngmoco shareholders and employees will receive $300 million in cash and securities and are entitled to additional consideration up to $100 million, contingent upon achieving certain performance milestones prior to Dec. 31, 2011. DeNA said it plans to integrate its Mobage software with ngmoco's own Plus+ social networking platform, called Plus+, which runs Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS operating system as well as smartphones powered by Google's Android.

Founded in 1999, DeNA operates the popular Mobage-town mobile social game platform, which boasts more than 11 million Japanese members. Mobage-town offers free games--users are required to sign up and create virtual avatars to interact with fellow gamers, with DeNA selling clothes and other game accessories for the avatars. MiniNation, a mobile version of the Mobage-town platform optimized for iOS devices, rolled out in May 2010. DeNA is expected to generate revenues in excess of $1 billion during its current fiscal year; the ngmoco deal heralds the company's third and largest U.S. gaming acquisition in recent weeks, following on agreements to purchase Gameview and Astro Ape.

Two-year-old ngmoco ranks among the App Store's most prolific and successful iPhone and iPad game publishers, with a series of hit titles including Rolando, WordFu and We Farm. In August 2010, the startup closed a new round of funding led by digital services giant Google's Google Ventures arm--citing multiple sources, TechCrunch reported the investment totals somewhere between $3 million and $5 million, bringing ngmoco's total valuation well above the $100 million mark. Earlier this year, ngmoco announced the completion of a $25 million Series C round led by Institutional Venture Partners--since the beginning of 2010, the startup also has acquired two rival iPhone gaming developers, Stumptown Game Machine and Freeverse.

For more on the DeNA/ngmoco deal:
- read this release

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