Weekly News Digest #47
# of announced deals
announced deals’ size
# of closed deals
US-based AR-entertainment company Niantic has received a $300m investment from Coatue at a $9B valuation. The funding will be used for financing the LiveOps of the company’s current games, creating new apps, and further development of the Lightship ARDK platform.
Niantic is known primarily for its augmented reality game Pokémon Go. The game was launched in 2016, and is still the most downloaded and best-grossing AR game in the industry, according to AppMagic. In 2019, Niantic released another promising AR title Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. However, the game failed to find its wider audience and meet the expectations of the developers. As a result, Niantic announced the close of the game at the end of Jan’22.
Recently, Niantic has joined the blockchain trend with the announcement of Fold AR — an AR game where you earn Bitcoin, made in collaboration with fintech company Fold.
Niantic has also created Lightship AR Developer Kit, or simply ARDK — a platform with the development tools for the creation of AR games and experiences.
Though we observed a decrease in interest in AR gaming (Niantic never again saw 180 million installs per month as it did at the launch of Pokémon Go), the company managed to diversify its activity and experiment. Moreover, last month Niantic released Pikmin Bloom AR-game made in collaboration with Nintendo. The game has a pretty good start and has already brought over 3 million downloads and over $1m of Revenue, according to AppMagic.
Israel-based social casino games developer Moon Active has closed a $300m funding round, led by Insight Partners with participation of Andalusian Private Capital. The round values the company at $5B. Back in January 2020, when Insight Partners bought 10% stake in the company, Moon Active was valued at $1.25B.
Founded in 2011, the company is best-known for its Coin Master social casino title. Since its launch in 2016, the game has been downloaded more than 257 million times with a peak of 18 million downloads in May’20. Overall, the game has generated more than $2B Revenue for Moon Active, according to AppMagic.
US-based indie game publisher and developer tinyBuild has announced the acquisition of another US-based indie game publisher Versus Evil and its subsidiary Red Cerberus, a provider of video game services. The total purchase price is $31.3m, including:
— $12.5m upfront consideration;
— the total earn-out consideration of up to $18.8m, paid if the agreed financial targets are met.
Based on the combined financial performance of the companies in 2020, which is $12m Revenue and $0.2m EBITDA loss, the transaction multiples are 1x EV/Revenue without earn-outs and 2.6x EV/Revenue with earn-outs.
Based in Seattle, Versus Evil is a video game publisher, which has partnered with Stoic Studio and Obsidian to publish The Banner Saga trilogy and Pillars Of Eternity 2. The company will keep its independent brand and will focus on publishing RPG and strategy games, which are not common for tinyBuild’s portfolio. Overall, Versus Evil brings in for tinyBuild 32 new titles.
Red Cerberus is Versus Evil’s internal testing and QA studio. From now on, the studio will provide its services to tinyBuild and many of its internal developers. Based in Sao Paulo, Red Cerberus will also extend tinyBuild’s reach to South America.
This seems to be a huge year for tinyBuild. Earlier, the company went public on the London Stock Exchange at $473m market cap, and made six other acquisitions: Bad Pixel, Animal, Doghelm, as well as We’re Five Games, Hungry Couch, and Moon Moose.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
Canada-based media and content platform Enthusiast Gaming acquires US-based company Outplayed, the parent company of League of Legends statistics and data visualization service U.GG. The total consideration of $45m will be paid in cash and stocks. The deal includes potential earn-outs of up to $12m, based on certain performance milestones being achieved within a two-year period. With the acquisition Enthusiast Gaming is expanding its brand across a range of platforms, with Outplayed being another beneficial addition to its growing portfolio.
US-based video game and software developer and publisher Epic Games announced the acquisition of US-based music games developer Harmonix, known for Rock Band and Dance Central rhythm game series. Together the companies will focus on creating immersive music experiences, probably making Epic Games one step closer to the creation of its own version of metaverse.
US-based esports organization Ghost Gaming acquires US-based esports content firm One Percent. The terms of the deal are not disclosed. With this deal, Ghost Gaming is increasing its presence in Atlanta and becoming ‘the leading platform for popular gaming content creators in the South’ according to the press release.
Australia-based esports organization Kanga Esports has announced the acquisition of another Australia-based esports organization Legacy Esports, from Australian Football Club Adelaide Crows. With the acquisition, Kanga Esports unveiled their expansion into League of Legends and got an additional spot within the League of Legends Circuit Oceania (LCO), while maintaining the Kanga Esports brand.
France-based indie publisher Plug In Digital has raised $75m in Series B funding. The round was led by Bridgepoint Development Capital, with participation of Eurazeo. The proceeds will be used to further expand and diversify the company’s portfolio.
Hong Kong based esports organization Talon has raised $5m in series A funding round led by blockchain gaming company Animoca Brands. The funding will be used to develop digital and blockchain solutions for Talon fans including NFT, digital merchandise, and PvE blockchain games.
US-based blockchain video game studio Blockade Games has raised $5m in Seed funding. The round was co-led by Animoca Brands and Digital. The funding will be used for the development and expansion of the Neon District gaming universe, through the in-game capability development and unique asset releases.
UK-based mobile games studio Pocket Burger Games has raised $1m in Seed funding. The round was led by SISU Game Ventures, with participation from RLC Ventures, and Aream & Co. The funding will go towards the development of casual mobile games and the expansion of the studio’s team.
US-based games developer Atari announced the investment of $500k in UK-based retro games streaming platform Antstream. The company also signed an option to purchase the assets of MobyGames, including its website and database for $1.5m — the option is valid till Mar’22. Moreover, Atari has sold its NFT-lands in The Sandbox for a cash payment of around $4.3m.
Canada-based Pioneer Media Holdings, an investment company with interests in NFTs, NFT gaming, esports, and mobile gaming, announced that it has submitted an initial application to list its common shares on the NEO Exchange — a Toronto-based stock Exchange. Pioneer believes that the graduation from CSE to the NEO Exchange will enable the Company’s Common Shares to be traded on a senior exchange in Canada, with exposure to an increased number of retail and institutional investors.