Gameforge takes control of Frogster

German online games publisher acquires 60% stake

COLOGNE, Germany -- German online games publisher Gameforge has acquired majority control of Berlin-based Frogster Interactive Pictures, the group behind the hit multiplayer online game "Runes of Magic" in a deal that values Frogster at $85 million (€64 million).

Gameforge paid $33 (€25) a share for a 60% stake in Frogster. Frogster management retains a 15% stake in the Berlin firm. Around 25% remains in free-float.

Frogster shares have been soaring since last year's launch of "Runes of Magic," a MMO fantasy game similar to "World of Warcraft." Unlike WOW, which charges users a monthly membership fee, "Runes of Magic" is free-to-play. Frogster generates revenue by selling virtual items to gamers online.

According to Fogster's own figures, "Runes of Magic" earned $3 million (€2.2 million) for the company last month. Frogster boasts a user base of more than 5 million worldwide that is growing rapidly. The company has picked up rights to several new online titles, including Korean games "Tera" and "Mythos" which it plans to re-gig for the European market.

Gamesforge is one of the largest independent publisher of online games. Last month, the German group, based in Karlsruhe, signed a licensing deal with CBS Studios, to design free-to-play browser games based on CBS' "Star Trek" franchise.