You might or might not have heard of 4:33 Creative Lab, but the South Korean mobile games publisher and sort-of developer has footprints all over the world. Global games it has published include Monster Super League and Seven Guardians. However, the company recently made a drastic change in its business strategy in an emergency board meeting, moving from publishing 3rd party games to focus more on self-developed titles.
3rd party games which have already been signed to a publishing deal will not be affected. According to Korean reports, the main reason of this change in business is due to 4:33 Creative Lab not having any breakout titles in recent years despite receiving over USD 100 million of investment back in 2014 from LINE and Tencent. Employees also received offers to voluntarily retire from the company, although 4:33 insisted there is no restructuring.
4:33 Creative Lab has at least 2 subsidiaries in the form of mobile games studios after buying them over during unspecified times, including Action Square and Thumb Age. The former is developing Blade 2, although there has been no update since early this year. Once the top mobile games publisher in South Korea, 4:33 reportedly has been making annual net losses since 2014, with the amount doubling in 2016 compared to 2015.
The current strategy to greatly reduce manpower in publishing and marketing related roles appear to have surprised some in the industry, as 4:33 reportedly still has over USD 40 million in cash and assets. With the big guns such as Netmarble and Nexon growing bigger, it seems 4:33 will soon be reduced to one of their partners in the future. The immediate future of 4:33 apparently lies with the (hopefully) success of Blade 2 and DC Unchained.