Saban Brands acquires Zombie Farm creator The Playforge

MUMBAI: Saban Brands is adding game to its digital capabilities. The company has acquired The Playforge business, a mobile games developer and publisher, known for Zombie Farm, the third highest grossing iOS app in 2011 and a top 10 grossing game for nearly two years, accounting for more than 37 million downloads.

This acquisition continues Saban Brands‘ growth since reacquiring the Power Rangers property and purchasing lifestyle brand Paul Frank in 2010. Additionally, the company announced in July that it is launching Vortexx, a broadcast television block on US broadcaster The CW network and an online destination for action, adventure and comedy entertainment.

The company plans to extend current and future free-to-play mobile games developed by the San Mateo-based The Playforge into licensing, merchandising and media opportunities.

In addition, the acquisition greatly expands Saban Brands‘ development capabilities, providing additional resources for advancing games currently in its slate. The Playforge team adds more than 25 employees to the organisation and gives Saban Brands a solid footprint in Silicon Valley.

Saban Brands VP of digital Dan Silberberger said, "Mobile is becoming the default medium for entertainment, and games are the future of social engagement. The Playforge has a demonstrated record of creating sustainable, high-quality mobile social games. This acquisition allows us to take a leadership position in the space, combine our brand expertise with the development capabilities of The Playforge, and further expand our reach to wherever consumers want – from mobile to online to television."

The Playforge, founded by husband and wife team Vince McDonnell and Susan Salvador, will continue to release game titles under its own brand, continuing the company‘s reputation as a leading developer of highly engaging, character-based games. The Playforge already has three live games in the iTunes App Store (Zombie Farm, Zombie Life, and Tree World) and is the only company, with the exception of Rovio and its Angry Birds game, to be in the Top 10 grossing iPhone apps on the iTunes Rewind in both 2010 and 2011.

As of the end of 2011, Zombie Farm is the No. 1 top grossing free-to-play application of all time and The Playforge was only bootstrapped company to make the top 10 grossing list.

The Playforge CEO Vince McDonnell said, "By partnering with Saban Brands we‘re able to take our products to new heights where they can be enjoyed and experienced by a much broader audience through licensing, merchandising and media opportunities, areas that are tremendously exciting to us. We look forward to collaborating with Dan and his team in support of our three additional title launches in 2012, and as we plan for the future."

The Playforge has taken a focused approach to game development with a team of product managers, producers, developers, designers and artists focused on the core aspects of a game. The approach has worked well for its highly-successful Zombie Farm franchise.

Saban Capital Group director of private equity Richard Yen said,"Zombie Farm is one of the first iOS games to sell virtual currency redeemable for virtual goods. This continues to reinforce The Playforge‘s position as an industry pioneer and leader as this model now represents the lion‘s share of iOS app revenue".

Saban Brands president Elie Dekel said, "As Saban Brands continues to grow and evolve, we are thrilled to be working with the talented team at The Playforge. We look forward to a steady stream of new games, new intellectual properties (IP), and new strategic collaborations that bring together and amplify the strengths and capabilities of the combined group".

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