The Next Big Thing

Mobile-gaming giant Kabam blasting into China market with Marvel Contest of Champions

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 April, 2015, 8:06am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 April, 2015, 11:18am

California-based mobile game developer Kabam has announced plans to launch its first title for the Chinese market.

Marvel Contest of Champions, based on the popular comic book characters, has been downloaded 30 million times in North America and Europe. It will be released in China in the autumn.

Players build and manage their own team of super heroes and super villains to win bonuses in the game that was developed by Kabam’s Vancouver studio.

“China’s just growing so fast that I expect that China itself will be larger than our US revenues,” Kevin Chou, Kabam’s chief executive officer told the South China Morning Post.

“The number of players will far dwarf the US market.”

The game was launched in North America and Europe in December last year and saw 20 million downloads in its first six weeks.

Chou said the popularity of the Marvel franchise, the console-quality look of the game and unique game play will give the game a competitive advantage when it is introduced to the Chinese market.

“The China market is growing, last year it grew at 100 per cent, it finished the year at US$3 billion in terms of just the mobile gaming market in China, which is roughly the same size as the US market,” Chou explained.

Chou and his team have been working for the past year to find partners in China to distribute the game and will announce its publisher in the next few weeks.

“Asia’s just an incredibly important part of our growth strategy, about 60 per cent of our revenue today is from the US market and 40 per cent of our revenue is from European markets and Asia is nothing for us today,” Chou said.

The number of [Chinese] players will far dwarf the US market
Kabam chief executive Kevin Chou

The game, which is free to download, is the 15th highest grossing iOS app in the US according to App Annie.

Revenue comes from in-app purchases, which range from US$4.99 for Peter Parker’s Wallet to US$99.99 for All-Father Odin’s Vault, according to iTunes.

Founded in 2006, Kabam moved from developing Facebook games to “freemium”, or free, mobile games and in 2014 chose to concentrate solely on console-quality mobile games.

The company opened a research and development centre in Beijing five years ago.

Last year, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding invested US$120 million in the gaming company, which opened a research and development centre in Beijing in 2009.

Chou said the partnership with Alibaba has given the company increased credibility within China.

Kabam has partnered with Disney, Universal and Warner Brothers to create games for movies including The Hobbit and Fast & Furious.

The firm’s Kingdoms of Camelot franchise has grossed more than US$250 million and four of its titles have grossed more than $100 million.

Investors in the gaming firm, valued at US$1 billion, include Canaan Partners, Google, MGM, Intel and Warner Brothers.