brian-reynolds

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Back in January, Zynga’s chief game designer Brian Reynolds, who was also behind older hits like Increase of Nations and Civilization II, quietly left the business.

He’s turning up back on the scene this month with a brand-new company called SecretNewCo (appropriate, eh?), and the startup is revealing a strategic partnership with Tokyo-based gaming titan Nexon today. The Tokyo-based business is investing an undisclosed quantity of capital in Reynolds’ company for a minority stake. While Nexon is not really sharing just how much it invested, just assume it’s a very early-stage financial investment.

The deal will give Nexon around the world publishing rights for SecretNewCo’s flagship game, which has actually a suitably called working title of ‘SecretNewGame.’ SecretNewCo’s flagship game itself seems similar to Civilization. The title is a ‘mobile strategic social network game’ where the player begins as the leader of a tribe in the Stone Age and needs to lead their civilization through all ages of human history. Like in Civilization, they can trade with their buddies, launch raids against opponents, type partnerships and resist attacks from other players.

Nexon is making this deal to appeal to Western audiences after developing longstanding franchise business in China, Japan and South Korea like MapleStory.

‘We’ve actually had our eye on a couple of individuals in the West and Europe who we’ve actually been thinking of for a while,’ stated Nexon’s chief financial policeman Owen Mahoney. ‘When Reynolds left Zynga, we struck up a conversation about what his next strategies were.’

While Nexon created nearly $450 million in profits in the first three months of this year, European and North American markets contributed less than 5 percent of the business’s revenues throughout that time. In contrast, China makes up nearly half of Nexon’s profits base.

So the business is wanting to expand its presence in the West at a time when barriers in between worldwide markets are falling. Games that have historically succeeded only in Japan or China now have the capability to reach a fully global audience through the Android and iOS platforms. Japan’s mega-hit Puzzles & Dragons is now at 16th put on the top-grossing charts in the UNITED STATE while Western titles like King’s Sweet Crush Saga and Supercell’s Clash of Clans are succeeding there.

More take care of Western game developers could patch up Nexon’s offerings in these markets. Mahoney says Nexon is looking at acquisitions and strategic financial investments of all sizes, from extremely early-stage offers to ones that could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The company had 110.5 billion yen ($1.1 billion) in cash on its account at the end of March.

‘We are not restricted in size. We’ve a big money position, so we are well-capitalized and able to move for things that are large when they become available,’ Mahoney said. ‘However we think that the chances are visiting be a range of both small, medium and huge deals and it depends on the creative alignment of the team, whether they’ve the exact same method to constructing business and franchises over time, the valuation, and how our teams and theirs get along.’