Hearst Takes Equity Stake in Game Developer Spooky Cool Labs
Deal provides Hearst with a new platform for content extensions.
Hearst Corporation has officially entered the game space with a minority stake in mobile and social game developer Spooky Cool Labs.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
â€śWeâ€™re trying to push the boundaries a little more on creating 360-degree businesses around [intellectual property],â€ť says Neeraj Khemlani, vice president and special assistant to the CEO for Hearst digital media. â€śGaming isnâ€™t anything new, but part of our thinking is that at the heart of any creative expression is great IP.â€ť
Hearst, owner ofÂ A+E NetworksÂ television media, has already established itself in the social game arena, most notably with its Facebook enterprise Pawn Stars: The Game. Based off the eponymous popular reality television show,Â over 200 million users played the gameÂ in its first year.
A separate company,Â Fifth Column Games, was the developer behind that effort.
Khemlani believes his company has a chance to leverage a considerable portion of its IP in much the same way as it did with Pawn Stars.Â Contemporary media from Hearstâ€™s television and magazine properties, along with a â€śtreasure chestâ€ť of vintage brands like Popeye, Betty Boop and Dennis the Menace held by the companyâ€™sÂ King FeaturesÂ arm, could all be used similarly.
Given the characters at the disposal of King Features, and the nostalgic lilt of Spooky Cool Labsâ€™Â recent launch, The Wizard of Oz, the partnership makes sense.
â€śWe can reimagine entertainment experiences around iconic characters that have already traveled the path of media evolution from print comics, to TV shows, to movies,â€ť Khemlani says. â€śThis is just the next step.â€ť
But despite the classic-nature of their title, and the experience of the game developersâ€”Joe Kaminkow and Larry DeMarâ€”behind it, Spooky Cool Labs is a only two years old. Oz, released in October, was the companyâ€™s first game.
â€śYou need creators who are going to push boundaries,â€ť Khemlani says. â€śYes theyâ€™re a startup, but thatâ€™s usually where innovation comes from.â€ť