Playtika Acquires Innplay Labs for up to $300m
This article is based on our Weekly News Digest #37 from 18.09.2023. If you want to receive such analyses first, be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter. There, we analyze the largest deals, elaborating on the financials and strategy behind, while also covering the smaller transactions of the week.
Israel-based mobile games developer Playtika (NASDAQ: PLTK) is set to acquire Israel-based mobile games developer Innplay Labs for a total amount of up to $300m, including an upfront consideration of $80m.
Innplay Labs, founded in 2019, is primarily known for its mobile casual game Animals & Coins. Since its global launch on both platforms in 2021, the game has generated more than 9.5 million downloads and $16.8m in IAP Net Revenue, according to data.ai. In Aug’23, the game showed $2.3m in Revenue and 1 million downloads.
Animals & Coins is one of the few titles, which managed to continuously grow in scale under the dominance of Moon Active’s Coin Master. According to data.ai, there are only 5 titles making more than $1m IAP Net Revenue per month in the genre of Luck Battle — that’s how data.ai defines this type of game. We will also refer to their classification for convenience.
Luck Battle is usually a more casual interpretation of classic casino mechanics like slots and dice rolls. Being one of the major players in the social casino genre, Playtika also made its moves to expand to the Luck Battle market. Its Pirate Kings game is the top-7 game in the market and generates around $800k per month.
So by acquiring Innplay, Playtika gains the expertise and knowledge of one of its competitors, who managed to differentiate and reach its audience despite all the challenges of the tough market. Now, the company plans to “rebrand Animals & Coins alongside Innplay”. We don’t know what this rebrand will be about, but we might consider that Playtika plans to further compete with the monopoly of Coin Master and… Monopoly Go.
The recent success of Scopely’s Monopoly Go is likely something that was happening alongside the ongoing M&A negotiations between Innplay and Playtika. Though it is unlikely to have affected the deal, it is fair to assume that the future rebranding will be influenced by the success of Scopely.
Overall, the deal is a continuation of Playtika’s shift from casino-themed games to casual-themed ones. In its Q2’22 financial report, Playtika stated that its Revenue mix had shifted towards casual-themed games. This trend continues from then on, with casual-themed games generating more and more Revenue every quarter. Today more than 56% of the company’s Revenue comes from casual games, such as Bingo Blitz, Solitaire Grand Harvest, June’s Journey, and several other titles, compared to 48.3% in Q2’21.
This may be happening because, according to Deconstructor of Fun, the number of social casino players is relatively modest and it might be around 100 thousand users, who should be attracted and retained, which might become quite a challenge due to Apple’s app tracking transparency policy.
In its latest financial report Playtika states that the company has generated a Revenue of $642.8m over Q2’23 (-2.5% YoY), with credit adjusted EBITDA being $215m for the same period (+6.7% YoY).
All in all, Playtika’s revenue remains pretty stable, as does Credit Adjusted EBITDA, with minor deviations ranging from 2% to 7%. In the current market, stability is already an achievement. However, to keep it that way, the company has to pay a great price. In one of our previous digests, we already highlighted some of the challenges Playtika is going through. In Oct’22 Playtika shut down its subsidiary gaming studio Seriously, laying off 600 employees, after laying off 250 people before that.
In Mar’23, we also saw Playtika stop launching or developing new games until the recovery of the market. Nevertheless, the company seems to be having a special strategy in this part. If the market struggles to launch and grow new titles, then it might be worth pursuing already successful stories. Thus, in Aug’23, Playtika entered into an agreement to acquire the Youda Games’ IPs, such as Governor of Poker 3, from Azerion (EURONEXT: AZRN) for up to $163.9m (€150m).
Looks like Playtika knows its strengths and limitations well. Playtika understands the risks of releasing new games, but it also has a huge background in scaling and operating titles, that already survived the oversaturated market in the post-IDFA era. In this scenario, M&A seems to be a great way to fuel the growth of the company. Let’s hope that newly acquired assets won’t face the fate of Playtika’s early-mentioned former subsidiaries.