Jam City Courts Hollywood with $165M Purchase of Game Maker Ludia

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Jam City Courts Hollywood with $165M Purchase of Game Maker Ludia

Jam City finalized its plans to pick up mobile gaming company Ludia – known for its "Jurassic Park" themed games – for $165 million, as the Culver City-based company seeks to become the "go-to studio for Hollywood."

The acquisition was first announced in May as part of Jam City's plans to go public via a $1.2 billion SPAC. But the IPO fell through. Since then, Jam City has raised a $350 million round from existing investors including Netmarble, Kabam and Fortress Investment Group and it's on the hunt for more companies to pick up.

"Gaming is evolving from being what a lot of studios considered an ancillary revenue stream and from the very beginning in the creation of the franchise, [studios] are thinking about how gaming fits into the strategy of that IP," Jam City Chief Operating Officer Josh Yguado said.

In the Canadian gaming company, Jam City sees a game developer with deep ties to Hollywood. The company has long had a partnership with NBCUniversal and their properties. Ludia's developed three games based on their "Jurassic Park" franchise, including "Jurassic World Alive," along with games based on the "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" franchises. Ludia is also working on two untitled games based on DC Comics and Disney properties.

Jam City's two biggest games right now are based on well-known franchises: "Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery" and "Disney Emoji Blitz."

The company's goal, Yguado said, is to become "the go-to studio for Hollywood" and noted that over half of Jam City's portfolio is games based on existing franchises.

Mobile Gaming Is 'Absolutely Dominant'

In the first half of 2021 gaming deals reached a record $60 billion high, according to research from Drake Star Partners.

Gaming analysts at Newzoo estimated last year that there's roughly 2.6 billion mobile gamers worldwide, but only 38% pay for their games. Getting players to spend on in-game content is key for Jam City's revenue, since most of its games are free to play. The average person buying Jam City's in-game content spends $45-$100 per month, the company said.

Jam City wouldn't disclose its revenue but Yguado said earnings have grown by "double digits" in the last five years and added lifetime in-game spending exceeds $3 billion.

"We really think of mobile gaming, and gaming broadly as the fastest growing entertainment sector; there's faster revenue growth than film and TV and music and within gaming, mobile is absolutely dominant," Yguado said.

Expanding in the Americas

The deal adds 400 employees to Jam City's 800-strong team and adds a second Canadian office to its growing international footprint.

Yguado said it is looking abroad for more companies that it can operate for less. Jam City is targeting Canada or Latin America, where governments contribute to production costs or offer tax breaks.

"Broadly, there's a trend of companies employing talent in lower-cost regions," Yguado said, noting that Jam City has also expanded into studios in Argentina and Columbia. "It makes a real difference in terms of diminishing cost per head."

Jam City's main local competitor is Scopely. Also based in Culver City, Scopely is buying up mobile gaming firms outside the U.S. at a rapid rate too, most recently targeting game makers in Spain and Ireland.

Scopeley's biggest game is "Marvel Strike Force," a game developed with Disney that brought in $8 million from in-game purchases last month, Sensor Tower reported. Comparatively, Jam City's "Harry Potter" game generated $2 million in the same time frame. Sensor Tower does note overall Jam City recently counted more downloads than Scopely – roughly 2 million last month, compared to Scopely's 800,000.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

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Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

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LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec
Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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