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Japan's DeNA buys iPhone game company Ngmoco

The iPhone game manufacturer has sold for a mix of cash and stock that may reach $400 million based on employee performance.

Ngmoco Eliminate
Ngmoco's Eliminate was one of the first games to offer 3G multiplayer on the iPhone.
Screenshot by Josh Lowensohn/CNET

There's another big exit in social gaming, a field that's fast rolling up: Bay Area-based Ngmoco, which builds games for the iPhone, announced early Tuesday that it's set to be acquired by a Japanese mobile software and gaming company called DeNA. The price is $300 million in cash and stock, with up to an additional $100 million based on employee performance post-acquisition.

The goal for the acquisition is for DeNA to build out its mobile gaming network, Mobage, in Western markets. "Mobage has tens of millions of users in Japan who play many hundreds of applications all woven together through a connected service," a blog post from Ngmoco explained. "We'll be bringing our two companies' collective experience and technology to bear and delivering you the smartphone version of this incredible service filled with amazing games and services, wrapped inside a vibrant community."

Ngmoco's focus as part of DeNA's Mobage will continue to be on mobile platforms rather than social networks like Facebook, but its first step will be branching beyond Apple's iOS to Android devices.

With social games, often catching on among demographics far removed from the typical young male "gamer" market, one of the biggest successes on both mobile smartphones and social networks, the companies that make them have been swiftly getting snapped up by big buyers in the gaming and tech business. Electronic Arts purchased Playfish last year, Disney has acquired both Tapulous and Playdom, and Google has taken a stake in U.S. market leader Zynga.