Weekly News Digest #50
# of announced deals
announced deals’ size
# of closed deals
As we wrap up the final edition of our 2023 Weekly Digest, we want to extend a heartfelt thank you for your continuous engagement and support throughout the year. Your readership drives our passion for delivering the most compelling and insightful content week after week. This year, we wrote 50 digests, covering almost 500 deals while surpassing the 5,000 subscribers milestone. And we hope this is just the beginning.
As the holiday season approaches, we hope it brings a joyful respite and a festive time with loved ones. May the new year be filled with prosperity, success, and more shared moments with us here at InvestGame. Happy Holidays, and here’s to a bright and promising 2024!
Keywords Studios acquires The Multiplayer Group for $97.1m
Today, leading game development outsourcing company Keywords Studios (LON: KWS) has acquired UK-based outsource games developer The Multiplayer Group (MPG) from Improbable for $97.1m (£76.5m). The deal implies the multiples of around 5x-7x forward EV/EBITDA 24.
Since its foundation in 2018, The Multiplayer Group has participated in the development of more than 20 AAA online titles and worked with studios such as Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Zenimax, Epic, and 2K. For instance, MPG has worked on such titles as Fallout 76, Mortal Kombat 1, Starfield, Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout, and other multiplayer games. The studio helps developers design and engineer multiplayer gameplay, client/server models, animations, and character control.
MPG was acquired by Improbable in Sep’19. The companies have always had similar expertise and shared focus. Improbable is primarily known for its SpatialOS Game Developer Kit, a set of tools for creating online games, especially MMO ones. Project Morpheus is another gaming software for creating massive online games and simulations. In 2022, the company announced the M² network, a development toolkit for creating web3 metaverses that support thousands of participants in real-time. History shows that Improbable and MPG complement each other and greatly benefit from working together.
Back then, we didn’t know the sum of the deal, but it seems to be ~$30m since Improbable managed to “more than double” the valuation of MPG. So, the sale of MPG is said to be a part of a growth strategy built around M&As. Improbable bought the company with the familiar business model, knowing how to scale and develop it over time. After the company grew enough and the right buyer was found, the companies split up, leaving Improbable with new funds on balance after the exit.
Speaking of the right buyers. Keywords Studios is the first to come to mind when acquiring an outsourcing company. Well-known entertainment-focused advisor Aream & Co acted as financial adviser to Improbable.
From 2020 to 2022, Keywords acquired 17 studios, which is why it often ended up in our reports as one of the most active strategic investors on the market. Speaking of this year, the company acquired three other companies apart from MPG: Digital Media Management for $67.5m, Fortyseven Communications, and Hardsuit Labs, both for undisclosed sums.
Though we see the continued growth of Revenue, we also observe a stagnated EBITDA and Net Cash shifting to a Net Debt of $12.4m during the last twelve months — the latter was strongly affected by the $100m the company spent earlier for the abovementioned acquisition activity.
Source: Keywords Studios
Nevertheless, in Jul’23, the company secured a multicurrency revolving credit facility agreement (RCF) of $400m from several lenders to support its sustainability and growth. This facility and the cash were used to support the acquisition of MPG. This acquisition is meant to help the company solve not only its current issues with financials but also with the share price, which was drastically affected by the company’s difficulties and the overall market situation.
Source: Yahoo Finance
To summarize, let’s have a quick look at some of the key facts about the deal:
— This is the largest deal with an announced value by Keywords;
— Keywords expects the deal to be earnings per share accretive in its first full year post-acquisition;
— In 2024, MPG is expected to contribute a double-digit Revenue growth to Keywords.
The stakes are significant, and the forecasts are optimistic, likely because of all the opportunities the deal opens to MPG. With one of the largest client bases in the industry and various stacks, tools, and technologies on board, Keywords has all it takes to support the already growing outsourcing business. So let’s keep an eye on the companies and see if these plans are meant to come true.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
US-based media conglomerate Hearst Newspapers has acquired US-based collaborative puzzle platform Puzzmo for an undisclosed sum. The platform serves as a hub for daily puzzle fans, featuring web-based versions of games like SpellTower and Wordbind. The acquisition aims to elevate Puzzmo’s reach and design, inspired by traditional newspaper games, with the platform’s creators, Zach Gage and Orta Therox, continuing to lead game development and technology under Hearst’s ownership.
Cyprus-based games developer XTEN Limited has raised over $40m in a funding round from several investors, including Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. The sum will further develop the company’s upcoming free-to-play soccer video game, ULF. The game is set for launch on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S, but the release date is yet to be disclosed.
US-based game tech company Magma has raised $5m in a Seed funding round led by GFR Fund, with participation from Bandai Namco Entertainment (TYO: 7832) and other investors. Magma, known for its AI-aided browser-based art creation and project management platform, plans to utilize the funds to include new features that enhance collaborative creativity and strengthen its international presence through strategic hires.
US-based content creation platform Allstar has raised $12m in a Series A funding round led by Drive Capital. Allstar’s platform enhances content creation, integrating features like music synchronization and filters. With plans to accelerate development and expand partnerships, the company aims to position itself as the go-to platform for gamers, fostering community engagement and redefining gaming content creation.
Finland-based mobile games publisher MyGamez has raised $1.6m (€1.5m) in a funding round from Mikko Kodisoja, Timo Soininen, and other investors. MyGamez specializes in co-publishing mobile game services in China. Timo Soininen will also join the board, emphasizing MyGamez’s transparent approach to accessing the Chinese gaming market for global publishers.
Hong Kong-based web3 gaming platform Mocaverse, developed by Animoca Brands, has raised an undisclosed sum in a funding round from OKX Ventures, the investment arm of crypto exchange and web3 technology company OKX. The investment aims to co-build Mocaverse projects on OKX’s newly announced zkEVM Layer-2 network, X1. The strategic partnership will provide Mocaverse access to OKX’s global user base, fostering growth in the developer community and participants building on X1.