GREE buys Funzio for $210 million

Crime pays for Funzio. Crime City that is.

GREE, in its attempt to expand its mobile gaming empire from Japan to North America, has acquired Funzio for $210 million. Funzio is the developer of Crime City, Modern War, and Kingdom Age, which have a total of 20 million downloads across iPhone and Android devices.

For those with good memories, this $200 million figure is around the same as the amount as what Zynga paid last month for OMGPOP, creators of the hit game, Draw Something. Ironic, since it was rumored that GREE was in negotiations to acquire OMGPOP as well (and loss out to Zynga).

By buying OMGPOP, Zynga bought into a game that knocked them off out of the number one slot on Facebook and a fast-growing casual drawing game with an actual business model (buying color palettes).

So, what does Gree get by purchasing Funzio?

The answer is a games studio with a track record of creating high-quality graphical games across all major platforms and devices (iOS, Facebook, Android). It’s not easy to create such graphically intense games cross platform for mobile devices, so Gree has also probably acquired some whiz-bang technology as well.

Funzio games may not have the numbers of Draw Something, but they appeal to the high-end mobile gamer (the mid-core market, as they call it). And with this purchase, GREE has a face with mobile street cred to take on the US and North American mobile game market.

This is GREE’s 4th major M & A activity in the past year, following its purchase of Open Feint last year and recent investments in IUGO and Wizcorp (HTML5 developer).

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