Break Media is betting big on social gaming, announcing today that it has launched a game production house in China and will soon introduce what it hopes will be the first of many new social games. In addition to the male-oriented Break.com, the company runs a half dozen or so web sites focused on subjects like race car driving and mixed martial arts. By adding games on those sites, Break hopes to drive deeper engagement and grow revenues through additional advertising and the sale of virtual goods.
The first social game that Break plans to release, MMA FightPicker, will be featured on its mixed martial arts site, CagePotato.com. The game, which combines social gaming and fantasy sports elements, enabling players to join pools and make predictions on upcoming MMA matches, will also be available on Facebook and other social networking sites. It’s set to be released Feb. 1.
Break’s new social gaming studio, located in Shanghai, is being managed by Alex Lien, former COO of game development company Winking Entertainment. According to Break CEO Keith Richman, the studio was first opened in October with about a dozen employees, but it plans to expand that number to more than 30. As a result, Break expects it to quickly ramp up production and push out about half a dozen new games by the end of this year.
The move comes as part of Break’s effort to diversify its business, spending more money on user-generated content acquisitions, as well as producing its own original and branded content. Last January it launched an in-house production organization called Creative Lab, and later acquired HBOlab to bolster its production capabilities. Over the past year, Richman says Break has grown substantially, to 110 employees from 70, and that such growth is set to continue into the new year.