China's Alibaba Invests in Maker of 'The Hobbit' Mobile Game

1:46 AM PST 08/01/2014 by Abid Rahman
Jack Ma, billionaire founder of Alibaba

The e-commerce giant invests $120 million in free-to-play company Kabam, which is behind such titles as "Fast & Furious 6: The Game" and an upcoming "The Hunger Games" mobile game.

Alibaba's spending spree continues with Jack Ma's e-commerce and entertainment giant investing in San Francisco Bay area based mobile games company Kabam Inc. 

Alibaba is investing $120 million in Kabam and will also publish a number of the company's free-to-play games across its Mobile Taobao and Laiwang platforms, including  Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North, Dragons of Atlantis: Heirs of the Dragon as well as the movie inspired titles The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth and Fast & Furious 6: The Game.  

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The announcement was made by Kabam CEO Kevin Chou at ChinaJoy, the digital entertainment conference currently taking place in Shanghai. Chou said: “Truly successful games companies have to be globally successful. This strategic collaboration with Alibaba provides Kabam the resources, infrastructure and distribution to help bring our current and future durable franchise games to China and elsewhere in Asia and make an immediate impact.”
 
Patrick Liu, president of Alibaba Group's digital entertainment business unit, said: “Alibaba is committed to collaborating with great games companies like Kabam to deliver captivating digital entertainment offerings to our users.”

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Kabam has focused on Asian markets to grow its business and the company opened an office in Beijing four years with exactly that task in mind. The company has done particularly well with its film-inspired games with the The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth already generating more than $100 million in revenue. The company has a slew of games based on movies forthcoming, including The Hunger Games in partnership with Lionsgate and Contest of Champions in partnership with Marvel.

Alibaba joins a list of high-profile investors in Kabam including Google Ventures, Warner Bros., MGM, Intel, Canaan Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Pinnacle Ventures and others. 

Alibaba's latest investment in the entertainment industry comes on the heels on streaming content deals with Lionsgate, taking a stake in Chinese video website Youku Tudou, investment in Chinese Internet-TV company Wasu Media, as well as setting up a new film studio. The rash of investment comes just before the prospective IPO of Alibaba that could value the giant at $250 billion.

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