Sega is making a show of investing in Western developers this month by pouring an unspecified amount of money into a pair of up-and-coming mobile game studios, and buying a third one outright.
It's part of a continued effort on Sega's part to focus on free-to-play games for the mobile market; last year the firm laid plans to launch 30 F2P games and cut a deal with Gumi to distribute Sega Networks' popular F2P games outside of Japan -- including the remarkably lucrative Chain Chronicles games.
Now Sega owns Boston-based Marvel Puzzle Quest developer Demiurge Studios, and studio founder Albert Reed will take on an executive role at Sega in addition to his work running the studio.
Sega has also made invested a minority stake in Space Ape Games, the UK-based developer of the F2P mobile strategy game Samurai Siege.
Space Ape recently raised $7 million in funding from investors as it prepares to launch its second F2P mobile game, Rival Kingdoms, which Sega will now be publishing in Japan.
Finally, Sega has invested enough to become a majority stakeholder in the San Francisco-based mobile game startup Ignited Artists, which has yet to release a game. When it does, Sega Networks COO Minoru Iwaki says it will be considered for global release.
"We believe that a global, mass market audience for mobile games doesn't vary too significantly in terms of the formula required for success," Iwaki told Gamasutra. "In our experience, the underlying game mechanics generally work on a global scale, but the difference in cultural tastes mostly drives how you approach the UI, art, writing, and other creative components of a game."
These deals come to light just weeks after parent company Sega Sammy announced plans to lay off hundreds of people and shutter its San Francisco office as it doubles down on digital games at the expense of amusement businesses and packaged products.