Scopely is a mobile gaming company that is behind the scenes of Star Trek: Fleet Command and other games. The company this week agreed to acquire FoxNext Games from Disney to enter the major leagues.
Disney acquired part of Fox for $ 71 billion in March 2019, acquiring the relatively new FoxNext Games in the Hollywood studio games division.
I talked to Tim O’Brien, the chief revenue officer of Scopely, based in Los Angeles. He said Scopely employed 200 people at FoxNext Games' Los Angeles studio and 50 at Cold Iron Studios in San Jose, California. But he pointed out that Scopely will sell Cold Iron Studios because it licenses a PC and console game based on Alien's focus on Alien.
Scopely also did not acquire Fogbank Entertainment, a studio that develops Storyscape mobile games in San Francisco. We also talked about strategies to grow and grow in the $ 100 billion mobile gaming market.
This is an edited version of our interview.
GamesBeat: What is your interest in acquiring FoxNext?
Tim O'Brien: We met Aaron (Loeb) and Amir (Rahimi, both of whom are leaders of FoxNext Games) early on. We are big fans and early fans of their games. We have been following their careers and their achievements. We think we have a very common view of how to make free games, and this is a player-first approach. Last summer, when we sat down with Aaron and Amir for the first time, we could immediately have some great synergy and a shared vision of what we are moving forward. We went through the whole process and over time it became undeniable. This is the perfect asset we want to acquire and the team we have to do business with.
GamesBeat: Can you tell me what you did and did not buy?
O'Brien: The deal will bring FoxNext Studios in Los Angeles and the Cold Iron team in San Jose.
GamesBeat: Is Cold Iron the Alien Attribute?
O'Brien: Yes, they are building a free console and PC Aliens shooting game.
GamesBeat: One entity left, right? San Francisco team.
O'Brien: Correct. The deal was not included with the Mist Bank Studio. They recently released a game called Storyscape.
GamesBeat: Is there a reason not to choose this studio?
O'Brien: Disney decided not to attach the asset. They are solving all questions about moving forward.
GamesBeat: How many people did you pick up? How many people are in Scopely after the transaction is completed?
O'Brien: The FoxNext studio in Los Angeles has less than 200 employees, while Cold Iron has about 50 employees. Scopely currently has 800 worldwide. The combined entity will total more than 800 people.
GamesBeat: Are there no licensed games related to Fox?
O'Brien: there is. The only things that come with the assets are "Marvel Strike Force", "Avatar" games and Cold Iron's "Alien" project. There are no other licenses in the transaction. FoxNext was originally Fox's gaming division, with all the licenses, and has now entered Disney. Obviously, Marvel and Avatar's licenses are provided with the transaction.
GamesBeat: Are you talking about the purchase price?
O'Brien: No. However, I can give you some information on how Marvel Strike Force is performing. They had $ 180 million in revenue in 2019, growing for seven consecutive quarters. The game has grown more than 70% since its launch, and last month was the biggest month, so we ’re excited to go hand in hand with the scale of the game.
GamesBeat: Is there any clear information on how executives fit together? I know some titles have been assigned, but do you have anything else to say?
O'Brien: That was one of the interesting things. When we entered and started researching the team, their setup was very similar to ours from a release perspective. They joined the marketing team. They think about lifecycle marketing very much like us. From the perspective of daily real-time operations and global audience development, it will remain relatively unchanged. Hopefully, we have some of the infrastructure that our company has and our global reach can help them continue to expand their business.
From an executive's perspective, FoxNext will have some people move to Scopely, and we're excited about that. Another reason we like assets and teams-Amir will be the president of the game, overseeing the FoxNext product portfolio, and Aaron will be a senior executive in the company we are still working with. He will play a wider role at the portfolio level.
GamesBeat: It's not just parallel operations.
O'Brien: Absolutely not. Many of them will play important core roles at Scopely. There are some great talents there. All in all, we will become a more attractive place for people. There are some huge synergies.
GamesBeat: For you, this is a doubling of certain things. I can see internal developments, talent in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, and Hollywood specialty properties. How would you describe Scopely's doubling research?
O'Brien: One of the key parts of the growth and M & A strategy going forward is the search for a world-class development team. We have found a veritable neighbor who shares a common vision and persists in the implementation of our next couple of strategies for the year. It's rare to be able to get great assets like Marvel Strike Force. It has amazing retention numbers. We are happy to do business with Marvel. We do like working with large AA franchisees, and it brings value to the audience.
But in the end, these guys are just great game producers. We hope to have world-class studios to create great games in the future. That, plus leadership. In order to get people like Aaron and Amir to join the company, inject more game DNA into Scopely (we already have a lot), it's spread across all fields. We are really excited today.
GamesBeat: Does it also tell us about general game booths in Hollywood, including internal development and licensing?
O'Brien: I do not know. I think Disney is implementing a strategy. For us, we are the partner of choice for large media companies and IP owners. We are the people they want to do business with. This obviously makes us do business with Disney, and we're very excited about it. I like our experience of building games based on IP and our success in multiple games. We have achieved success in multiple categories of the three categories of A intellectual property. All of these are aligned with our global strategy going forward.
GamesBeat: What is the status of alien games and Avatar games? Avatar is being tested, isn't it?
O'Brien: Yes, Avatar has been in beta for weeks. The key performance indicators are very strong. Reservations are great. We are currently in beta and will release sometime in the future. The game is beautiful. You can play it live in Canada. We are very excited about this.
In the case of Cold Iron, this is a strong development team of industry veterans. We believe their outlook on the prospect of playing games for free on PCs and consoles. However, we think they are best able to realize their vision with other partners in the space, so after the transaction, we will find a new home for the Cold Iron team. The merger of Scopely and FoxNext will be a mobile-focused company, so today's console and PC shooting games don't really fit our content strategy. We've talked to the management team there and everyone is willing to find a new home for the studio.
GamesBeat: That means they have to sell it again, and then?
GamesBeat: Glad Aaron Loeb has finally found a home.
O'Brien: (laughing out loud) I get along well with him, Walter and Javier. DNA and his creative leadership will be perfect for Scopely. He is in Los Angeles. This makes sense.
GamesBeat: I think he closed a record deal.
O'Brien: He might keep records, yes. I do not know. That Los Angeles studio has been together for a long time and we really like it. The development team that co-developed the game over the years has had so many synergies. They really know what they are doing. We appreciate their studio.