The Hobbit has been good for Kabam. First, the social gaming company created a best-selling mobile game based on it. And that relationship has led to a new round of funding. Today, Warner Bros. Entertainment (owner of the rights to the upcoming The Hobbit trilogy films) and Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios are announcing an investment in Kabam. The amount wasn’t disclosed.
Kabam launched The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth on Nov. 8. The game was co-developed by Kabam and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It is based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson’s upcoming trio of films based on the novel. New Line Cinema and MGM are co-producing the movies. After a month, The Hobbit game has become the 13th top-grossing mobile app on Google, and it is a top-25 grossing mobile app on Apple in the U.S.
Kevin Tsujihara, the president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) and a member of the office of the president at Warner Bros. Entertainment, and Gary Barber, the MGM chairman and chief executive officer, will join the Kabam board as member and observer, respectively.
“Partnering with Warner Bros. and MGM is a natural fit for Kabam as we create new storylines and extensions of Hollywood studios’ intellectual properties for millions of gamers worldwide,” said Kabam co-founder and chief executive Kevin Chou.
Kabam and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment are making another Hobbit game to be played via web browsers. The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age is expected to release early next year. The first of the three Hobbit films is set for release by New Line Cinema and MGM on December 14.
“We partnered with Kabam almost a year ago to deliver incredible games for The Hobbit trilogy, arguably one of the top intellectual properties in the world,” said Tsujihara. “As we worked with Kabam, it became clear that a closer, more strategic partnership made sense for us both. Kabam is a leader in the industry and we look forward to being a part of their continued growth.”
“Kabam offers great strategic vision and discipline for growth, and they are the best at what they do,” said Mr. Barber. “They are a natural partner for us on both our vast selection of IP as well as potential future projects.”
MGM co-owns rights to The Hobbit. Kabam previously raised money from Google, Intel, Canaan Partners, and Redpoint Ventures. San Francisco-based Kabam was founded in 2006 and has more than 550 employees. I’ve been playing the Hobbit game for a while. It’s a reskin of Kingdoms of Camelot, but I still find it to be addictive. I’m looking forward to seeing more original titles related to this franchise come from the developer.
To date, Kabam has made social and mobile games mostly with its own intellectual properties. But the company has become more ambitious as its revenues climb above $100 million (for 2011).