Weekly News Digest #26
# of announced deals
announced deals’ size
# of closed deals
Tencent’s mobile gaming subsidiary Miniclip has entered into an agreement to acquire Denmark-based mobile games developer Sybo. Though the sum of the deal is undisclosed, it seems like a pretty big deal — and here’s why.
Founded in 2010, Sybo launched its hit title Subway Surfers in 2012 — the game that has since become defining for the runner genre. In 2022, it is still the most profitable runner in the industry, responsible for 85% of the top-5 games Revenue.
Among the top-5 grossing titles, it is the only running game with an original IP. Pocket Champs is also on the list, but the game went far from pure runners, building its gameplay on Fall Guys multiplayer formula. Three other games, Sonic Forces, Sonic Dash, and Minion Rush, are based on the well-known third-party IPs that can generate a significant organic growth of the audience.
The game has been dominating the genre for a long time, and has managed to keep its Revenue at around $1m per month. However, in May’22 Subway Surfers generated around $5.2m (3.6x higher than in Apr’22) — the biggest Revenue spike the game has ever had in recent years. Meanwhile, the downloads also showed a significant increase, but not as high as the Revenue peak: 37.1 million in May’22 vs. 28.5 million in Apr’22. The growth may partially be explained by the game’s 10 Years Anniversary event, in which gamers need to post their gameplay videos online to prove they are the best. The game is also used by many TikTok users as a visual background for audio or text content.
These stimulate the game’s recognition and influence organic growth, but, most importantly, this might have propelled the long-standing audience to spend more. Though the event had a clear influence on the performance, the key reason for Subway Surfers’ long-term success is in the product itself. The developers pay a lot of attention to the game’s live ops, bringing new motivational features, improving graphics, and changing minor design elements, keeping the core gameplay elements as they are. Looking at the graph below, we can assume that the most important updates came out in Jul’20, when the game’s Revenue tripled in one month. Before this, Subway Surfers’ performance had been gradually declining.
It is tempting to explain the recent Revenue surge by Sybo’s preparation for the acquisition, so that the company might have a better valuation. However, considering that the deal structuring usually takes a few months, Miniclip likely started the M&A negotiations before the Revenue growth. It is much safer to say that the game, which won the core runners’ audience a long time ago, had found the right way to bring new experiences to its most valuable players.
As for Miniclip, the company is clearly changing its strategy, shifting the focus from instant games to more complex products, with wider monetization options. Ilyon Dynamics, Eight Pixels Square, Gamebasics Studio, Green Horse Games, and Supersonic Software acquisitions have already changed the way the company’s business looks, bringing new genres to the portfolio and widening the expertise.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
UK-based tech company Admix, which allows creators to monetize virtual experiences through brand placements, merges with UK-based building metaverse platform LandVault, which works on building in Sandbox and Decentraland, among others. Financial terms of the deal are not disclosed. The new company will be rebranded as LandVault, and will focus on providing services for major companies to enter metaverses and monetize their presence using LandVault’s technologies of in-game advertising. The new company will have a valuation of $300m.
Ukraine-based mobile game development & art production company Stepico acquires Ukraine-based game art production studio Inkration. Financial terms of the deal are not disclosed. The acquisition will allow Stepico to scale its production possibilities and work on larger titles.
France-based cloud gaming service provider Blacknut has received a strategic investment from Japan-based gaming company Square Enix. The amount of investment is undisclosed. The funds will be used for ongoing R&D of Blacknut’s technologies, acceleration of the market reach of its B2B solutions, and expansion of Blacknut’s portfolio of games on its service.
Australia-based mobile game developer Lumi Interactive has raised $6.75m in Seed funding. The round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from 1Up Ventures, Galileo Ventures, and others. The funding will go towards the company’s growth and scaling its title Kinder World across more platforms.
India-based games monetization company CloudFeather Games has raised $1.25m in Seed funding. The round was led by Lumikai, with participation from Venture Highway, and others. The funds will be used for adding more staff and expansion of its presence in the domestic and global markets.
Canada-based tech platform Parallelz, which enables apps and games to run on any device via the web, has raised $3m in funding. The names of investors are not disclosed. The funding will go towards hiring more staff, as well as the platform growth.