Weekly News Digest #35
# of announced deals
announced deals’ size
# of closed deals
— Russia-based indie PC games developer Konfa Games for a maximum of $5.4m, consisting of upfront and earn-out considerations for the next three calendar years. The sum will be paid in cash (around 40%) and in newly issued tinyBuild shares (60%);
— IPs from the UK-based Bossa Studios for $3m, 85% paid in cash and 15% in newly issued tinyBuild shares.
Founded in 2017, Konfa Games developed and self-published its first game — rogue-lite dark humor strategy Depotism 3k — in Nov’18. The game was positively received by the audience, and sold over 10 000 copies. After that, the studio started to develop its second game, a tactical auto-battler in the same setting as the first game. Despot’s Game was developed in collaboration with tinyBuild, which published the game in early access back in Oct’21. The game sold over 100 000 copies, and received ‘Very Positive’ reviews on Steam. The deal will be marginally accretive in 2022, and from 2023 onwards.
The acquisition goes in line with tinyBuild’s strategy, built around strong long-term relationships with early-stage developers, as well as IP ownership. Before going for the actual acquisition, tinyBuild is usually known for helping young startups to grow expertise and develop their IPs, while testing their work ethics and business compatibility along the way.
The second deal is solely about IP ownership. tinyBuild acquired several Bossa Studios IPs: Surgeon Simulator, Surgeon Simulator VR, Surgeon Simulator 2, and I am Fish and I am Bread — altogether, these franchises delivered a total of $6m Revenue last year, boosted by the launch of new titles. Bossa Studios has shifted its focus from single-player to co-op PvE games, and the deal allows the studio to concentrate on its new strategy. The acquisition is expected to be marginally accretive in 2022, and from 2023 onwards.
Founded in 2011, the company focuses on digital-first premium gaming, publishing its key titles on all the major PC, mobile, console, and streaming platforms. Games are usually first published on PC and then launched on other platforms, depending on their performance, which ensures lower upfront development risk.
As mentioned earlier, the two main aspects of tinyBuild’s strategy are the eventual M&As after long-term relationships, and focus on IP-ownership; let’s dwell on it a little bit further.
The first part is about diversification: tinyBuild has dozens of internal and partner studios across five continents, which makes it possible for the company to work with different, mostly emerging, markets and further diversify its offering. Usually, the company structures its deals by acquiring the team with its franchise via assets acquisition. Since 2020, the company has made over 10 acquisitions, and all of them were with the studios it had previously worked with.
The second part is about the multimedia approach. Buying licensing rights early-stage allows the company to further expand the franchises through new game installments, as well as books, graphic novels, animated and TV series, and merchandise.
Currently, the company owns over 70 games in its catalog, which brings around $52m Revenue in FY’22 — 81% of it comes from Own-IPs, and only 19% from third-party publishing.
Considering this, we can probably expect more M&As from tinyBuild in the future, and to guess the potential targets, we suggest you have a look at the currently published third-party games.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
UPDATE: Sweden-based gaming group Thunderful Group (NASDAQ OM: THUNDR) has announced a new earn-out of $1.17m to the sellers of UK-based gaming consultancy Robot Teddy. No other additional earn-outs relating to the acquisition of Robot Teddy will be paid to the sellers. The deal was announced in Oct’21, with the possible earn-out of up to $14.04m, based on the financial and operational performance till Dec’25.
Germany-based multiplatform game developer Stratosphere Games has raised $2.98m in funding. The round was co-led by Riot Games, 1Up Ventures, and Skycatcher. The funds will go towards the development of Desolation — a multiplatform cooperative looter-shooter.
US-based independent game developer Gallium Studios has raised $6m in funding. The round was led by Griffin Gaming Partners. The funds will be used to grow the team, start new partnerships, and develop new gameplay features. The studio is currently working on Proxi — a memory simulation game using blockchain technologies.
US-based developer platform for creating AI-driven virtual characters for games, metaverse, and brand experiences Inworld AI has raised $50m in Series A funding. The round was co-led by Section 32, and Intel Capital, with participation from Founders Fund, Accelerator Investments, First Spark Ventures, and others. The funds will be used for the platform’s development, adding more staff and developing AI of its virtual characters. The company aims to turn AI-driven NPCs into actors, who will be a part of the story.
Estonia-based cross-game avatar platform for the metaverse Ready Player Me has raised$56m in Series B funding. The round was led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from others. The funds will be used for scaling the avatar system to make it more flexible for developers, creating new tools for monetization of avatar assets, and building tools for creators to grant them access to the avatar marketplace.
US-based independent AAA game developer Something Wicked Games has raised $13.2m in funding. The round was led by the Chinese game publisher NetEase. The studio was formed by Bethesda and Obsidian veterans. The funds will go towards the development of an unannounced open-world RPG.
India-based web3 game developer Cricinshots has raised an undisclosed amount in Pre-Seed funding. The round was led by Antler India. The funds will be used for the development of its cricket collectable strategy game, and to expand the team.
US-based metaverse-focused startup Aldora has raised $3m in Seed funding. The names of investors are not disclosed. The funds will be used for the growth of the startup and the development of its tools for the metaverse projects.
China-based AR glasses producer Nreal has raised $15m in a funding round led by IICombined — the parent company of Gentle Monster. The funds will go towards R&D investments, accelerating business expansion to new markets, and strengthening existing partnerships with developers and partners.
Animoca Brands Japan, a separate unit of Hong Kong-based blockchain-focused company, has raised $45m in funding. The round was co-led by Animoca’s parent company and MUFGbank. The funds will be used for local licenses and investments.
Finland-based web3 game developer Black Block has raised $1.5m in funding. The round was led by Play Ventures with participation from the others. The funds will be used for the development of The Sprawl — GTA-like sandbox game.