Kabam, formerly a significant part of Facebook's (News - Alert) gaming ambitions, has recently been making moves to get out of Facebook's shadow and become its own fully-featured gaming enterprise. To that end, the San Francisco company, dealing in free-to-play games, has made a fairly major advance of its own, buying out Vancouver startup Exploding Barrel Games.
The terms of the Kabam / Exploding Barrel Games deal weren't disclosed, but it's clear what the purpose behind it is, dovetailing into some recent remarks made by Kabam's chief executive Kevin Chou. It was rapidly becoming clearer that free-to-play games needed to improve in terms of overall content as well as graphics presentation and gameplay, thus Chou, and Kabam in general, have their marching orders: they're out to make games that are on par with the newest in console fare.
Picking up Exploding Barrel Games, meanwhile, is a great way to move toward that goal. Not only is Exploding Barrel Games staffed by people who have worked the console fields before--studio president Scott Blackwood served at Electronic Arts working on titles like Need for Speed--but they've also had dealings directly with studios, having released the game "Margaritaville" with THQ. THQ's recent bankruptcy, however, left them out of the social gaming concept, and gave Kabam the opening they needed to get in on Exploding Barrel Games. Exploding Barrel Games is just the latest in a series of acquisitions Kabam has made in recent days; since 2010, Kabam picked up Fearless Studios, Wild Shadow Studios, Gravity Bear, Balanced Worlds and WonderHill.
Better yet, Exploding Barrel Games has three titles in development currently, though no one's saying just what those titles are, and Blackwood, for his part, looks forward to developing with Kabam for the Web, as well as tablets and smartphones, clear areas of future growth possibility. Meanwhile, Chou's recent trip to CES (News - Alert) gave him some insight on the future as well, noting the increase in smart TV offerings from virtually every TV maker out there. Such televisions are overwhelmingly Android (News - Alert)-based, Chou noted, and as such, they would be needing games.
Kabam may well have the right idea here. Improving the lineup of free-to-play games is likely to net them quite a user base, especially given the overall rise in the tablet and smartphone market as a whole. More than a few users out there are delaying the purchase of desktop PCs, instead going to a new tablet and letting the old PC stay old for just a while longer so they can take advantage of the various benefits offered by the new tablet form factor.
Only time will tell if Kabam's master plan bears fruit, but it's a safe bet that they'll at least put forth a sound presence, offering what will hopefully be several solid games if nothing else.
Edited by Brooke Neuman