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Bigpoint adds gaming developers in online push

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Internet gaming firm Bigpoint has bought the development team of sports-focused console gaming studio 49Games to create more online, multiplayer 3D games, as more players shift from consoles to the Internet.

Bigpoint says it is the world's largest browser-based online game provider, having more than 200 million registered users for its games which can be played within an Internet browser and require no download.

The buyout of the 40 or so developers at Hamburg, Germany based 49Games is the fourth deal in 18 months for Bigpoint, and its chief executive and founder Heiko Hubertz said the firm was seeking more acquisition targets.

Bigpoint, employing more than 700 and offering games such as "Seafight" and underwater adventure "Deepolis," was valued at $350 million in a deal earlier this year.

U.S.-based ABI Research estimates that the online gaming industry's sales will grow to more than $20 billion in 2012, challenging traditional makers of video games.

(Reporting By Tarmo Virki; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)