20th Century Fox expands gaming portfolio by acquiring Aftershock – Los Angeles Times

20th Century Fox wants to be a bigger player in the video games business.

The Hollywood studio said Tuesday that its FoxNext division has acquired Aftershock, a creator of mobile games that has studios in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

About 80 people from Aftershock will join the FoxNext team of 40 individuals. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The deal comes at a time when major studios are grappling with ways to reach younger audiences who are consuming more entertainment on mobile devices.

Aftershock specializes in multiplayer games for mobile devices and has been working with Lightstorm Entertainment on a game based on James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster “Avatar,” which was distributed by 20th Century Fox.

The boutique company was created in February as part of a spinoff from mobile-game maker Kabam, which was recently acquired by the South Korean gaming company NetMarble.

FoxNext itself was only created in January in an effort to centralize the studio’s gaming, virtual reality and theme parks groups. The division is working on projects including VR tie-ins with the studio’s “Alien” and “Planet of the Apes” franchises, as well as the 20th Century Fox World theme park in Malaysia.

Fox has traditionally licensed its intellectual property to game developers and will continue to do so, Salil Mehta, president of FoxNext, said in an interview. Previously, the studio has licensed popular titles such as the “Ice Age” movies and the long-running series “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” to outside game makers.

The Aftershock acquisition means the studio will be able to do more development in-house and retain greater control over certain titles, like the “Avatar” game.

Fox declined to discuss the release date of the “Avatar” game.

Aaron Loeb, who served as president of Aftershock, will take the title of president of studios for FoxNext Games and will report to Mehta.

The acquisition is intended to capitalize on Aftershock’s experience turning popular movies into games.

“There’s a real opportunity for us to really take advantage of the incredible innovation taking place and to work with our own storytellers to offer them a canvas to tell our stories,” Mehta said.

As Kabam, Aftershock created games based on franchises including the “Fast & Furious” and “The Hobbit.”

“The core DNA of Aftershock was bringing iconic intellectual property to a mobile experience,” said Kent Wakeford, who served as chief operating officer of Aftershock. He said he is joining Fox as a consultant but will not work there full time.

“Fox has been clear that they want to create one of the best mobile-game studios in the industry,” Wakeford said.

david.ng@latimes.com

@DavidNgLAT

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