If someone had stopped you five years ago and told you that mobile phones would become the hottest new market for games developers, you’d probably have laughed yourself into a coma. But thanks to the advent of smartphones, app stores, and the growth of the small development scene, that’s exactly where we are today. GAMEVIL is a company that knows this well. With popular franchises like Zenonia and Baseball Superstars under their belts, they’ve become a name that gamers can trust when it comes to mobile gaming. Now they want to grow, and they can’t do it alone – so they’re ready to spend $10 million to bring the great games of others to the GAMEVIL brand.

The company has just announced the GAMEVIL Partner Fund, a $10 million initiative to build partnerships with other developers in the hopes of delivering more top notch games to consumers under the GAMEVIL name.

“As the market expands with smartphones at its center, partnering with promising and exceptional external developers has become more important,” said Yong Kuk Lee, Chief Financial Officer of GAMEVIL. “By working together with these creative developers and combining GAMEVIL’s understanding of the global smartphone game market, we will carve out success and growth for everyone involved.”

The concept seems to be paying off. Recent GAMEVIL successes, like the one-time chart-topping Air Penguin, managed to come from collaborations with outside developers. Since the start of 2011 the company has partnered with more than 10 outside developers in one form or another, and it’s resulted in a variety of titles, including Kami Retro and Chalk ‘n Talk.

Of specific interest to the announcement of the Fund is where some of this money is already being spent. GAMEVIL has confirmed that they have acquired exclusive rights to the Cartoon Wars series, which has certainly seen its share of Top 10 spots on the App Store over the last few years.

The App Store seems to have had a strange evolution since its inception. It started as a place where any developer could be a publisher, shunning the entire concept of the developer/publisher relationship. Then the shelves quickly filled up, and it seemed that no matter how good your game was, it was nearly impossible to get noticed. Now things have come full circle and top developers are quickly turning into top publishers, helping smaller names get the attention they deserve. GAMEVIL’s step in this direction seems to be just another bit of proof that publishers are an inescapable part of mobile gaming success, no matter how tempting the notion of self-publishing might be.