Jam City, Inc
|Industry||Video game industry|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, United States|
Number of locations
Number of employees
|500 (September 2016)|
Jam City, formerly SGN Games, is a Los Angeles-based mobile game developer.
Founded in 2010 by MySpace co-founders Chris DeWolfe and Aber Whitcomb and 20th Century Fox executive Josh Yguado, with financial backing from Austin Ventures, the mobile game publisher’s portfolio of puzzle and simulation games includes Facebook’s 2014 “Game of the Year”, Cookie Jam; Panda Pop; Genies & Gems; Book of Life: Sugar Smash; Marvel Avengers Academy; and Family Guy: the Quest for Stuff. In 2016, the top 100 highest grossing mobile games played in the United States included several Jam City titles. As of October 2016, Jam City’s titles had been downloaded more than 800 million times.
Chris DeWolfe’s company, Platform G, acquired San Francisco-based social gaming platform MindJolt in March 2010 with Austin Ventures backing. The MindJolt name was retained, DeWolfe became CEO and expanded the leadership team, which then included fellow MySpace founders Colin Digiaro and Aber Whitcomb, COO and CTO, respectively; Josh Yguado (SVP of Business & Corporate Development); and Richard Fields, the founder of MindJolt, who joined the new company to lead strategy. DeWolfe commented in a 2013 article that one reason MindJolt appealed to him was that it had a big gaming footprint on Facebook.
In April 2011, MindJolt doubled its staff (to 80) and added mobile games to its portfolio of web offerings by acquiring two companies, Social Gaming Network and Hallpass Media. Social Gaming Network had a strong mobile presence, as the creator of iPhone and Android games that had been downloaded 30 million times. Game portal Hallpass Media had a big web presence with four million monthly users of about 1500 web-based games.
MindJolt adopted a new name, Social Gaming Network (or SGN), in March 2012.
In June 2013, SGN acquired Mob Science, which was a Facebook games developer of "mid-core social games" and known for Legends: Rise of a Hero.
In December 2015, SGN acquired two companies, Fat Rascal and Kiwi, Inc. At the time, DeWolfe stated that Fat Rascal and Kiwi were two of the best independent studios he’d seen in the current market and that it was an exciting time for the company as it continued to "deploy fresh capital and acquire the brightest game talent" that would enable them to globally expand their development capabilities. The acquisition of TinyCo in July added 125 employees to SGN, bringing its total number to about 400. Mobile entertainment games that TinyCo had created included Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff and Marvel Avengers Academy.
In September, SGN rebranded itself as Jam City, Inc. In a CNBC Power Lunch interview, DeWolfe commented that the name change better reflected the culture of SGN and the types of games they had been making. The name "Jam City" both sounded like a fun name and had multiple meanings for the company.
Most of the games Jam City produces are free-to-play and give users the option to make purchases with real money to obtain more lives or add special skills in-game that allow them to advance further in it faster. Jam City's goals include long shelf life games that generate revenue for years. As of January 2017, two of Jam City’s largest hit games, Panda Pop and Cookie Jam, were growing every month and had been on the market for four years.
At the time of the September 2016 rebranding (from SGN to Jam City, Inc.), Jam City announced that they had obtained a license for the intellectual property necessary to develop a game based on Peanuts.
Products and collaborations
In December 2010, a partnership with Broadcast Interactive Media (BIM) was formed. BIM is a company that works with local media, such as television networks, newspapers, and radio stations, throughout the US and helps run their online presences. One method utilized to bolster user engagement on websites is the addition of games, which gives users a reason to visit in the absence of breaking news. With this partnership, MindJolt’s portfolio of 1300 games became available for distribution to these media outlets through BIM.
In December 2012, SGN launched its proprietary technology, MasterKey, which allowed them to develop a game once and then publish it across multiple platforms in less time than it would take to build on the varying platforms individually. MasterKey was described as being technology that "essentially works like a translator or convertor." It took Whitcomb and his team about 18 months to create the MasterKey technology that also allows users to begin playing a game on one device and pick up where they left off when accessing the game from another device.
SGN partnered with Fox to create a game, Book of Life: Sugar Smash, that was based on Guillermo del Toro and Jorge Gutierrez’s animated film, The Book of Life released in October 2014. This was SGN’s first collaboration with a major Hollywood studio to simultaneously release a game and film. With the partnership, both SGN and Fox shared marketing for their respective products and were able to promote for each other – the game promotes the movie and the movies promotes the game – one way this is done is through the stars of the movie, including Channing Tatum and Zoe Saldana, providing information about the game to their fans and social media followers. Rick Phillips (Fox’s SVP of Digital Entertainment) noted, "with this game, we are able to broaden the film’s universe, enabling the audience to interact with the story long after they’ve left the theatre."
In December 2014, SGN and Chinese internet technology company NetEase announced a partnership that enabled SGN’s game, Cookie Jam, to be distributed in China in early 2015. In contrast to the two major app stores in the US (iOS and Android), China has over a dozen. NetEase’s existing experience and presence in the China was viewed as an asset to SGN as they could help streamline the process "in a huge way." NetEase would also be providing assistance in reworking the game to make it graphically more suitable for a Chinese audience. NetEase stated they were "thrilled to bring SGN’s most popular mobile game to China" and that they were "confident it will resonate strongly with players in the region… with fast-paced, fun gameplay and compelling characters, Cookie Jam has tremendous potential in China." This was the first time SGN tailored a game specifically for Chinese users.
South Korean mobile game company Netmarble was announced a $130 million investment in SGN in July 2015; this was one of the largest investments in mobile gaming since 2013. The investment made Netmarble the largest shareholder in SGN. SGN stated that the partnership was strategic and not just financial. Netmarble would help SGN further expand into Asia and SGN would help Netmarble expand its market share in the US.  At the time, less than 10% of the revenue by Asian game publishers was being generated outside Asia. SGN’s products were being used 55-60% in the US and Canada; the Asian games market was the largest in the world and SGN wanted a share of it. The investment ensured that SGN and Netmarble would distribute each other’s games.
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