gaming-weekly-28

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 28

Highlights

Nintendo announces the Nintendo Switch (OLED model) (link)

  • A brand-new trailer from Nintendo has revealed the latest iteration of the Switch platform, known as the Nintendo Switch (OLED model), with a launch slated for this October
  • Notable improvements from previous models include a larger seven-inch OLED screen, an adjustable stand for tabletop mode, a new dock with a wired LAN port, enhanced audio, and 64GB of internal storage
  • The Nintendo Switch (OLED model) will launch on October 8th, 2021

Pokémon GO has accumulated $5B from player spending, according to Sensor Tower (link)

  • A report from Sensor Tower estimates that Pokémon GO has generated $5B in revenue from player spending since its release in July 2016, with the latest $1B being earned in the last seven months
  • Sensor Tower also estimates that Pokémon GO’s revenue is up 34% YoY in 2020, and up 130% over the same period in 2017

The Xbox Game Pass app has generated 14M lifetime downloads, according to Sensor Tower (link)

  • A report from Sensor Tower estimates that Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass app has generated an estimated 14M lifetime downloads via the App Store and Google Play
  • Sensor Tower also estimates that the Xbox Game Pass app has been installed 2.5M times in 2021 alone, with 1.8M of that number originating via Android
  • The Xbox Game Streaming app, only available on Google Play, has reportedly generated 3.2M downloads to-date

Roblox strikes deal with Sony Music to bring more artists to the platform (link)

  • Roblox and Sony Music Entertainment have entered a partnership to bring Sony Music’s artists and their music into Roblox through various mediums such as virtual concerts
  • “With this new agreement, we look forward to expanding our successful partnership with the Roblox team to further unlock commercial opportunities at the intersection of music and gaming,” said Sony Music president of global digital business and US sales Dennis Kooker

M&A and Capital Raises

NFT Oasis creator Provenonce raises $4.4M to help VR creators reach the masses (link)

  • The proceeds will be used to enable VR creators to reach the mass market via VR art galleries
  • Provenonce is known for NFT Oasis, a platform that brings together NFTs, VR, and decentralized finance in a comprehensive platform to enhance artists’ creative freedom, business control, and financial success
  • Select investors in the round include Brad Stephens, managing partner at Blockchain Capital, as well as Lemniscap and CitizenX Crypto Ventures

SciPlay acquires Om Nom: Run developer Koukoi Games (link)

  • US-based SciPlay has acquired Finnish Social Mobile games studio Koukoi Games for an undisclosed amount
  • Founded in 2015, Koukoi is known for co-developing Mobile Runner game Om Nom: Run alongside license holder ZeptoLab
  • The title has generated over 30M downloads since its release in February 2020

Other

CD Projekt’s The Witcher: Monster Slayer launches this July (link)

  • Poland-based CD Projekt has announced that the latest game in The Witcher franchise will be releasing globally on July 21st
  • The Witcher: Monster Slayer is a F2P location-based AR RPG, and will release simultaneously for iOS and Android, with pre-registration now being available on Google Play
  • The Witcher: Monster Slayer is developed by Spokko, a subsidiary of CD Projekt

Codemasters CEO Frank Sagnier to step down four months after EA acquisition (link)

  • EA has confirmed that Codemasters CEO Frank Sagnier will step down from his position at the end of July, alongside Codemasters CFO Rashid Varachia
  • Codemasters will now become a part of EA’s Sport division, with current senior vice president of publishing Johnathon Bunney and senior vice president of product development Clive Moody to lead the Company

Electronic Arts announces the formation of Ripple Effect Studios (link)

  • The studio, formerly DICE LA, is currently assisting in the development of Battlefield 2042 in addition to a separate, independent project
  • Ripple Effect Studios will be led by Respawn founder Vince Zampella, who has previously worked on Shooters such as Call of Duty, Titanfall, and Apex Legends

FunPlus appoints Michael Tong as chief strategy officer (link)

  • FunPlus has recently announced the appointment of Michael Tong, former NetEase director, as its new chief strategy officer
  • Tong’s appointment is the latest in a string of high-profile personnel acquisitions from FunPlus, having previously hired game industry veterans Chris Petrovic and Wei Wang as chief business and creative officers, respectively

Minecraft becomes adults-only in South Korea (link)

  • Minecraft players under the age of 19 will be unable access the title in South Korea due to new login requirements by Microsoft
  • Microsoft recently informed players that they must use an Xbox Live account to access Minecraft, which has an age minimum of 19, in accordance with South Korean law

Riot Games brings back in-person attendance for the North American League of Legends Championship (link)

  • Riot Games has recently announced that the League of Legends LCS Championship in North America will be held as an in-person esports event on August 28 and 29 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey
  • “We started seriously exploring the feasibility of an in-person LCS Championship experience earlier this year,” said Chris Greeley, Riot Games head of esports for North America and Oceania

Ubisoft Plans Assassin’s Creed Live Online Game Service (link)

  • Ubisoft has revealed that an upcoming project codenamed Assassin’s Creed Infinity sets out to create a massive online platform that evolves over time
  • Infinity will contain multiple historical settings with room to expand to others in the months and years following its debut

While individual games on the platform may differ in presentation and gameplay, each of the titles will be interconnected

Gaming Public Multiples

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GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 27

M&A and Capital Raising

WinZO raises $65M to scale social interactive entertainment platform (link)
Griffin Gaming Partners led the round

  • Indian social entertainment platform WinZO will use the funds to accelerate its growth in the Indian Interactive Entertainment industry
  • WinZO offers an extensive suite of services to users, including real money game multiplayer functionality, a digital storefront, and an integrated streaming service in a central application
  • WinZO’s platform has seen significant growth since its launch in 2018, having grown revenues tenfold over the past 12 months with over 45M total downloads
  • Griffin Gaming Partners led the round, with participation from Makers Fund, Courtside Ventures, and Steve Pagliuca, Co-Chairman of Bain Capital

IronSource goes public via SPAC at an $11.1B valuation (link)

  • Tel-Aviv based IronSource has completed a business combination with Thoma Bravo Advantage, a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, at a valuation of $11.1B
  • IronSource is a platform that provides monetization, engagement, and analytics services to mobile app developers, with its monetization platform powering more than 87% of the top 100 mobile games
  • IronSource currently trades on the NYSE under the $IS ticker

MTG acquires PlaySimple for at least $360M (link)

  • Swedish gaming company Modern Times Group has acquired Indian Word Games studio PlaySimple for $360M (up-front) in cash and stock
  • Founded in 2014, PlaySimple is known for games such as Daily Themed Crossword, Word Trip, Word Jam and Word Wars, having amassed 75M downloads and 1.9M DAUs
  • The transaction represents a concentrated effort from the part of MTG to establish a foothold in Mobile, with PlaySimple joining other MTG mobile studios such as InnoGames, Hutch Games, Kongregate, and Ninja Kiwi

Dream Games raises $155M for Match-3 games (link)

  • Istanbul-based Dream Games will use the funds to scale and augment their development capabilities in the Match-3 genre
  • The funding is the largest Series B financing in Turkey, valuing Dream Games at $1B
  • Dream Games is known for their debut game Royal Match, which reached the top-20 grossing games list in the US, United Kingdom, and Germany in only 3 months
  • Index Ventures and Makers Fund co-led the round, with participation from Balderton Capital, IVP, and Kora

Animoca Brands raises $50M to bring NFTs to games (link)

  • Hong-Kong-based Animoca Brands will use the funds to support strategic investments and acquisitions, product development, and licenses for popular intellectual properties
  • Animoca’s pre-money valuation for the round was $1B, with participation from investors such as Blue Pool Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Gobi Partners, Korea Investment Partners, Liberty City Ventures, Samsung Venture Investment Corp., Scopely, Token Bay Capital, and zVentures

TCGplayer raises $35M to expand beyond tabletop games (link)

  • Syracuse-based TCGplayer will use the funds to expand into new digital collectible hobbies
  • TCGplayer claims it operates the largest online marketplace for trading card games, and will expand into new hobbies such as collectible sports cards and comic books
  • Funding was provided from Vista Credit Partners

Quizizz raises $31.5M for gamified lesson development (link)

  • Santa Monica and India-based Quizizz will use the funds to develop gamified quizzes and interactive lessons to facilitate learning for students worldwide
  • Quizizz’s platform currently has over 20M quizzes spanning a wide range of academic topics and grade levels, and is currently used in over 120 countries
  • Tiger Global Management led the round, with participation from existing investors such as Nexus Venture Partners, GSV Ventures, and Eight Roads Ventures

Singularity 6 raises $30M ahead of launching Palia (link)

  • Los Angeles-based Singularity 6 will use the funds to fuel the development and launch of Palia, a peaceful online MMO that bridges the gap between community-simulation games and the MMO experience
  • Singularity 6 currently has 56 employees with experience at leading developers such as Blizzard, Epic, Riot, and Sony
  • FunPlus Ventures led the round, with participation from previous investors including Andreessen Horowitz and London Venture Partners as well as Transcend, Anthos Capital, and game industry veteran Mitch Lasky

Hiber raises $15M for user-generated games created on Mobile (link)

  • Sweden-based Hiber will use the funds for its platform for publishing user-generated games
  • Hiber’s platform facilitates user-generated game development without the need for prior programming knowledge, with over 1M interactive experiences having been developed on the platform
  • EQT Ventures led the round with participation from CMT Digital, Luminar Ventures, Bumble Ventures, Sybo, and Konvoy Ventures

Drop Fake raises $9M for social gaming experiences (link)

  • The game studio will use the funds to help develop a 4X strategy game for Mobile with cross-platform functionality on other platforms including PC
  • Drop Fake’s team has previously worked across several well-known titles including EverQuest, Skate, Command & Conquer, Game of War, and Marvel: Contest of Champions
  • March Gaming led the round, with participation from FunPlus Ventures, CourtsideVC, 1Up Ventures, and Aream & Co.

Community Gaming raises $2.3M for esports tournaments (link)

  • New York-based Community Gaming will use the funds to expand its presence into Latin America and Southeast Asia as the first comprehensive blockchain-enabled payment solution in the gaming space
  • Founded in 2017, Community Gaming hosts esports tournaments with a comprehensive platform for player registration, tournament bracket management, and player payments facilitated by distributed ledger technology
  • CoinFund led the round, with participation from investors including Dapper Labs, Animoca Brands, Multicoin Capital, 1kx, and Warburg Serres

Sony acquires PC port specialist Nixxes Software (link)

  • Sony has announced that it was acquired Nixxes Software, a company that specializes in PC ports for console games
  • Netherlands-based Nixxes has worked exclusively on PC ports for Square Enix, including titles such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Marvel’s Avengers
  • The acquisition adds to Sony’s PC development capabilities, with titles such as Days Gone and Horizon: Zero Dawn having already been released on Steam

Sony Interactive Entertainment acquires Housemarque (link)

  • Sony has recently acquired Finland-based game developer Housemarque for an undisclosed amount
  • Housemarque is a long-time partner of Sony, having released 8 PlayStation titles to-date, with its most recent release being Returnal, a PS5 exclusive
  • “With a proven track record of creating original games that feature best-in-class gameplay, Housemarque is a highly-accomplished studio and we couldn't be more thrilled to officially welcome them to the PlayStation Studios family,” said Hermen Hulst, head of PlayStation Studios

Other

The Global Game Market will grow to $200B in 2024, according to Newzoo (link)

  • The 2021 Global Games Market Report by Newzoo projects the global game market will grow from $175.8B in 2021 to more than $200B in 2024, representing a CAGR of 8.7%
  • The report also forecasts that the mobile gaming market will generate $90.7B in consumer spending in 2021, growing 4.4% from a year ago
  • While APAC accounts for most players worldwide (55%), Europe and North America heavily over-index for player spending, together accounting for over 40% of games revenues

Nexters raises its financial forecasts as it prepares to go public in SPAC transaction with Kismet Acquisition One Corp. (link)
LionTree serves as financial advisor to Kismet

  • Russia-based Nexters said it grew its financial performance in the first quarter and has raised its outlook for 2021
  • Nexters is known for Hero Wars, a mobile RPG with over 100M downloads on both iOS and Android that seeks to deliver a midcore gaming experience to casual players
  • The studio also intends on launching additional mobile titles, including Chibi Island, a farming adventure game

Gameloft launches first NFTs in Asphalt 9 (link)

  • Gameloft has announced that it will integrate NFTs into Asphalt 9 through a partnership with Epik Prime, with the first batch of tokens consisting of a racing-themed set of collectables
  • Players will compete in an event to earn exclusive trophies and codes for limited edition video NFTs, which they will be able to generate and hold by opening an account via the Epik Prime website starting July 5th
  • Epik Prime currently works with brands including Viacom, Warner Music, Garena, Tencent, and Universal to increase fan engagement and generate new monetization opportunities through unique digital collectables

Former Blizzard developers open a new RTS studio for Tencent Games (link)

  • Tencent Games subsidiary Lightspeed and Quantum Studios Group have recently announced the formation of Uncapped Games Studios
  • Los-Angeles based Uncapped Games Studios is led by David Kim and Jason Hughes, and is currently working on a RTS game for PC
  • Kim and Hughes had extensive involvement in Diablo IV’s development, with the former serving as lead systems designer and the latter serving as lead game producer

Scopely adds 2 new board members, including former Activision Blizzard president (link)

  • Mobile game publisher Scopely has added two new board members – initial public offering adviser Marcie Vu and former Activision Blizzard president Coddy Johnson

“We’re super-excited to have Coddy and Marcie joining and helping us navigate the next stage of growth at Scopely,” said Scopely co-CEO Walter Driver. “It’s been an exciting last few years, with some pretty explosive growth in the rearview mirror. Having trusted advisers to rely on as we navigate the next set of challenges is going to be a huge advantage.”

Gaming Public Multiples

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GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 26

M&A and Capital Raising

Electronic Arts acquires Playdemic from AT&T for $1.4B (link)

LionTree served as exclusive financial advisor to AT&T / Playdemic

  • Electronic Arts has acquired Playdemic from AT&T for $1.4B in cash
  • Founded in 2010, Playdemic is a mobile gaming company known for its award-winning game, Golf Clash, available on iOS, Android, and Facebook
  • Golf Clash is one of the leading mobile games in the US and UK with more than 80M downloads globally to-date
  • The acquisition of Playdemic is part of EA’s mobile growth strategy focused on delivering new experiences to their network of nearly half a billion players around the world
  • The acquisition will add to EA’s mobile portfolio of more than 15 top live services across genres such as Lifestyle, Casual, Sports, and Mid-core games

PMML raises $22M to scale online betting and media platform Rivalry (link)

  • Toronto-based PMML will use the proceeds to help fund Rivalry’s growth through hiring additional employees, expanding to new countries, and developing new products
  • Eight Capital and Cormark Securities led the round, with participation from Canaccord Genuity and M Partners alongside numerous undisclosed investors

GXC raises $4.73M for game community feedback tools (link)

  • South Korea-based GXC will use the proceeds to fund the development of multiple game services, including community feedback tools for mobile game developers
  • GXC is the holding company of game service platform G.Round, a community-based tool aimed to help developers refine and polish upcoming releases with market-data feedback
  • Konai Partners, Hana Financial Investment Co., SangSang Ventures, and Enlight Ventures led the round, with participation from additional undisclosed investors

Rovio acquires $3M equity stake in Gutsy Animations and gains exclusive rights for Moomin mobile games (link)

  • Finland-based Rovio has taken a $3M equity stake in Gutsy, in addition to a similarly valued convertible loan
  • As part of the agreement, Rovio has also signed a six-year exclusive deal to make games using the Moomins IP on any gaming platform

GamerzClass raises $2.5M for gaming master classes (link)

  • Denmark-based GamerzClass will use the proceeds to offer online master classes with the goal of teaching people to improve their skill at video games
  • GamerzClass is used by more than 250,000 active gamers in 180 countries, and charges a subscription fee of $10 per month
  • ByFounders, Ben Holmes, and Morten Wulff led the round, with participation from Bumble Ventures and TrueSight Ventures

Boom Corp. raises $1.8M to develop social games (link)

  • Boom Corp. is a Finnish game studio known for developing social games such as Boom Slingers, a turn-based battle game that debuted in December with 1.5M players globally
  • The Company’s founders have extensive experience in gaming, having worked on titles such as Angry Birds and Badland, and will use the proceeds to expand their portfolio of social games
  • VGames led the round, with participation from numerous undisclosed investors

Unity acquires Pixyz Software (link)

  • Game engine platform Unity has acquired Pixyz Software for an undisclosed amount
  • Pixyz is a provider of 3D data preparation and optimization software which allows creators to import 3D data into Unity and optimize models for real-time 3D development

The acquisition will allow Unity to build an LOD solution with a full suite of workflows integrated into Unity for asset generation and run-time integration

Highlights

Overwolf will pay out $29M to mod and app creators in 2021 (link)

Overwolf is a Griffin Gaming Partners Portfolio Company

  • Overwolf has re-branded itself as a guild of in-game creators, and has announced that it expects to pay out $29M to players who create items to buy and sell in video games
  • The Israel-based company caters its services, such as its CurseForge Core UGC platform, at modders and in-game app creators
  • The Overwolf framework is used by over 30,000 creators, whose mods and apps cater to 20M gamers worldwide

TiMi Studio Group opens Seattle studio for triple-A game development (link)

  • China-based TiMi Studio Group is a Tencent-owned developer known for mobile games such as Call of Duty: Mobile and Honor of Kings
  • TiMi Seattle will work on multi-platform triple-A games, including an original IP that has yet to be revealed
  • The studio will be led by gaming industry veterans Scott Warner and Rosi Zagorcheva, and will be based in Bellevue, Washington

Player spending in mobile Sports games rose to $649M during the past 12 months in the United States, according to Sensor Tower (link)

  • A report from Sensor Tower claims that player spending in the mobile Sports category in the United States increased by approximately 16% to $648.8M during the past twelve months
  • The report also concluded that the highest grossing Sports game by player spending between June 1st, 2020, and May 31st, 2021, was Playdemic’s Golf Clash, followed by Miniclip’s 8 Ball Pool and Ten Square Games’ Fishing Clash
  • The Realistic Sports subgenre was the number 1 revenue generator of the three Sports subcategories during the past year, with player spending increasing by 11.4% YoY to approximately $382M

Mojang and Sega partner to bring Sonic the Hedgehog to Minecraft (link)

  • Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog will be added to Minecraft as a part of the character’s 30thanniversary celebration
  • The game will also feature a two-week Sonic-themed event showcasing iconic levels and characters from the franchise

Gaming Public Multiples

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GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 25

Highlights

Mobile gaming downloads and spending rose 30% and 40% in Q1 2021, respectively, according to App Annie/IDC (link)

  • App Annie and IDC’s Gaming Spotlight report claims that consumers spent $1.7B per week in mobile in Q1, up 40% from pre-pandemic levels, while mobile game downloads grew 30%
  • The report also concluded that publishers are embracing cross-platform in their titles, with top-grossing games such as Roblox and PUBG Mobile having cross-platform functionality
  • “Gaming continues to be the tip of the spear on mobile,” said App Annie CEO Ted Krantz. “There are opportunities in in-app purchases and lifetime value that will add more strength to the hardcore. But hypercasual and casual are playing a pivotal role in advertising, especially post IDFA.”

86% of Gen Z plays mobile games, according to Tapjoy (link)

  • A report from mobile ad and app monetization firm Tapjoy states that 86% of Gen Z members use mobile devices as gaming platforms, and that Gen Z is the most likely of all generations surveyed to enjoy other gaming platforms, including PC and Console
  • 66% of Gen Z reported downloading more gaming apps during the pandemic, compared to 59% of Millennials and 56% of Generation X
  • Popular genres amongst Gen Z include Action-Adventure, RPGs, and Puzzle/Match-3

M&A and Capital Raising

Krafton will raise $5B via public offering, according to Bloomberg (link)

  • South Korea-based Krafton will sell more than 10M shares at a price between $409.78 to $498.36 a share
  • The PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds developer would be valued at roughly $25B, and plans to finalize the price on July 9 to go public by July 22
  • Krafton was founded in 2007 as Bluehole, and has sold over 75M copies of PUBG, with the game’s mobile version having more than 1B downloads

Lingokids raises $40M for educational games platform (link)

  • San Francisco-based Lingokids will use the proceeds to develop its “playlearning” mobile educational games app, which is meant to teach literacy and other skills to children aged 2-8 years old
  • The platform, launched in 2016, was recognized as one of the Top Startups in 2020 by LinkedIn and operates a child-friendly, ad-free environment
  • An undisclosed investor led the round, with participation from GP Bullhound, HV Capital, and Ravensburger

Yield Guild Games raises $4M to further growth in play-to-earn gaming (link)

  • Decentralized player guild Yield Guild Games will use the proceeds to continue expansion in the play-to-earn gaming market, where players can earn real money through gameplay
  • Bitkraft Ventures led the funding round, with participation from A.Capital Ventures, IDEO CoLab, Mechanism Capital, and ParaFi Capital

Influence Mobile acquires Blind Ferret (link)

  • Rewarded engagement firm Influence Mobile has acquired gaming ad agency Blind Ferret for an undisclosed amount
  • Seattle-based Influence Mobile made the acquisition in an effort to rapidly scale its rewarded engagement platform and capture more market share in mobile game advertising
  • Blind Ferret, headquartered in Canada, works with mobile app developers to acquire new users through targeted advertising campaigns

Vungle agrees to buy JetFuel (link)

  • Performance marketing firm Vungle has agreed to acquire influencer marketing platform JetFuel for an undisclosed amount
  • The deal is the fourth acquisition that Vungle has made in the past seven months
  • JetFuel enables app developers and other advertisers to scale marketing campaigns across a network of over 15,000 fully verified influencers, with a combined reach of over 4B Instagram followers, 1.5B TikTok followers, and 100M daily Snapchat views

Others

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 launches in 2022 (link)

  • Nintendo confirmed the title’s 2022 release date on Switch alongside a new trailer at their E3 2021 Direct Presentation
  • The new title aims to be significantly more expansive than its predecessor, with new abilities and environments designed to improve gameplay

Cyberpunk 2077 returns to the PlayStation Store on June 21 (link)

  • Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red confirmed the title’s return to the PlayStation Store after nearly six full months of being withheld from the platform by Sony

Niantic partners with Hasbro to launch Transformers: Heavy Metal in 2021 (link)

  • Niantic has partnered with Hasbro to launch Transformers: Heavy Metal, a new augmented reality mobile game which is currently in development
  • The title will allow players to battle robots in an AR street environment, similar to Pokémon GO’s raid battle system
  • Very Very Spaceship has been tasked with game development using Niantic’s Lightship platform as it prepares for a soft launch in New Zealand sometime in June

Mythical Games launches early access for Blankos Block Party (link)

  • Los Angeles-based Mythical Games has launched early access on PC for its Blankos Block Party open-world multiplayer game
  • Mythical Games has more than 100 employees, and it has been working on its tech and game for three years

A new Batman AR game is in development from Warner Bros. (link)

  • The augmented-reality mobile game, known as “DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition”, has begun testing in Italy on iOS devices
  • The game currently features 10 AR missions, 10 Batman-themed mini-games, 8 AR face filters, 10 sticker packs, and 5 exclusive digital comics

Gaming Public Multiples

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GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 24

Highlights

Mobile gaming industry to grow to $272B by 2030, according to GlobalData (link)

  • GlobalData is predicting that the mobile gaming market will be worth $272B by 2030, representing a compound annual growth rate of 11%
  • “The growing maturity of streaming (supported by 5G), cloud gaming services and mobile esports – combined with the fact that mobile platforms are close to technical parity with PCs and consoles – means most gamers will embrace mobile gaming in the next few years,” said Rupantar Guha at GlobalData

75% of pandemic-driven mobile gaming lift will remain, according to IDC/LoopMe (link)

  • A report from market research firm IDC and digital ad platform LoopMe predicts that roughly three-fourths of the pandemic-driven increase in mobile gaming will persist indefinitely
  • The survey found a correlation between increased mobile gameplay time commitments and local pandemic effects, with Live Multiplayer Mobile Games outperforming all other game types in 2020

Koch Media reveals Prime Matter game publishing label (link)

  • Munich-based Prime Matter will publish both new IP as well as games from various studios owned by Koch Media
  • Upcoming titles include Starbreeze Studios’ Payday 3, a new entry in the Painkiller shooter series from Saber Interactive, and an RTS take on the CrossFire franchise from Blackbird Interactive

M&A and Capital Raising

Mythical Games raises $75M for Blankos Block Party game and playable NFTs (link)

  • Los Angeles-based Mythical Games will use the proceeds to launch its Blankos Block Party open-world multiplayer game as well as its platform to create games with nonfungible tokens (NFTs)
  • The Company is pursuing the idea of “playable NFTs”, which uses NFT technology to uniquely identify game characters that players can earn through gameplay, buy, or sell
  • WestCap Group led the round, with participation from 01 Advisors, VaynerFund, Galaxy Digital, Javelin Venture Partners, Alumni Ventures, and Struck Capital

Electric Gamebox raises $11M to build gaming pods to revive retailers (link)

  • The proceeds will be used to create Gamebox game rooms, interactive digital smart rooms that allow two to six players to play games in retail spaces
  • Electric Gamebox will also use the funds to expand to locations including Chicago, Houston, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles
  • Philian Invest led the round, with participation from Brookfield Asset Management, Index Ventures, and ActivumSG

Phoenix Games acquires Knighthood publishing rights from King (link)

  • German mobile game developer Phoenix Games has acquired the rights to Midoki’s RPG Knighthood for an undisclosed amount
  • Phoenix has also gained a minority stake in English game developer Midoki, and will work to integrate its proprietary suite of tools in the game to improve retention, user acquisition, and monetization
  • Knighthood has received over 5M downloads across both iOS and Android devices since its release in February 2020

Stillfront Group acquires role-playing game Crush Them All from Godzi Lab (link)

  • Swedish game developer Stillfront Group has entered into an agreement to purchase the idle mobile title Crush Them All from Godzi Lab in an all-cash transaction for an undisclosed amount
  • As of May 2021, the game has 55,000 daily active users, 250,000 monthly active users, and has generated an estimated $13M in bookings over the last twelve months ending April 2021
  • Once the transaction is complete, Crush Them All will be operated by Imperia Online, a Stillfront subsidiary

Voodoo acquires Bidshake (link)

  • French hypercasual games publisher Voodoo has acquired Israeli cross-channel marketing automation platform Bidshake for an undisclosed amount
  • Bidshake, which launched in January 2020, will continue to operate as an independent company and work to extend its product and service offerings to help with the growth of its mobile games library and app developers

Others

Overwatch is adding crossplay support for all platforms (link)

  • Blizzard Entertainment has recently announced the addition of crossplay support to Overwatch for all platforms (PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch) across all game modes except competitive
  • Cross-progression was not announced alongside crossplay, and console players will have to link their Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo accounts with a Battle.net ID

Why Microsoft is all-in on gaming, according to CEO Satya Nadella (link)

  • In an interview with Xbox game leader Phil Spencer, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reaffirmed the Company’s commitment to further investment in gaming
  • “As a company, Microsoft’s all-in on gaming”, said Nadella. “We believe we can play a leading role in democratizing gaming and defining that future of interactive entertainment, quite frankly, at scale. I’m really excited about the opportunity in gaming.”
  • Nadella identifies three competitive advantages that Microsoft holds over its peers: leadership in cloud computing, the subscription value with Xbox Game Pass, and the Company’s overall focus on empowering creators

Binge will debut in 2022 as a game and entertainment streaming video platform (link)

  • Toronto-based Binge is an upcoming video content platform with original series and shows inspired by the popular video game worlds and content creators
  • Content on the platform will be ad-supported and available to stream for free on any internet-connected device upon launch in 2022

Gaming Public Multiples

gaming-weekly-23

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 23

Highlights

Netmarble releases FQ1 2021 earnings (link)

  • Netmarble generated $512M in revenue representing a 7% increase YoY and $56M of net profit representing an 8% increase YoY
  • North America accounted for 36% of the revenue, with Korea accounting for 29%, Europe for 12%, and Japan for 9%
  • Netmarble’s top game, The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross accounted for 15% of revenue, with MARVEL Contest of Champions accounting for 12%, and Seven Knights 2 for 11%

Nvidia quarterly revenues grow 84% to $5.66B (link)

  • Nvidia reported revenues of $5.66B for its first fiscal quarter ended May 2, up 84% from a year earlier
  • Gaming revenue grew 106% to $2.76B, exceeding Wall Street’s expectations
  • The Santa Clara, California-based company makes graphics processing units (GPUs) that can be used for games, AI, and datacenter computing
  • The Company saw record revenue in its gaming, datacenter, and professional visualization platforms

M&A and Capital Raising

E Virtuix raises $19M for Omni One VR treadmill (link)

  • The Austin, Texas-based Virtuix will use the proceeds to launch Omni One, an omni-directional treadmill for consumers that lets players walk and run inside games and virtual worlds
  • Virtuix’s Reg A campaign allowed anyone to purchase shares in Virtuix, and the minimum investment was only $1,000. More than 6,500 investors participated in the round

Esports brand Fnatic raises $17M for Asia expansion (link)

  • The investment from Marubeni and other investors will help the Company expand in the growing Japanese and Asia Pacific esports markets
  • The investment will accelerate Fnatic’s growth in the substantial Asia-Pacific market with a new strategic partnership that will incorporate the expansion of Fnatic’s base of operations in Japan and support for its Rainbow Six: Siege team, which plans to relocate to the country
  • The Company was founded in 2004, and it has raised $53M to-date with 110 employees

Double Loop raises $8M for mobile game development (link)

  • Hiro Capital led the round for the female-run game studio with additional participation from Garena, Riot Games, London Venture Partners
  • The studio aims to create games for all types of players, designed to be social, relaxing, and accessible
  • Double Loop has 14 employees, and it is hiring at least four more to handle production and is currently focused on development of its mobile puzzle hybrid game

1047 Games raises $6.5M to develop free-to-play shooter Splitgate (link)

  • Based remotely and in Zephyr Cove, Nevada, the game studio already launched Splitgate in early beta form in 2019 to positive reception
  • Galaxy Interactive led the round, with participation from VGames, Lakestar, and 1Up Ventures
  • It will now use the funding to substantially increase the production of in-game content and ramp up marketing efforts to acquire new players

Noice raises $5M for ‘playful’ social platform for gamers (link)

  • Noice has said it is developing a platform that combines user-generated content, deep game systems, and engaging social design
  • The new platform is in early testing and is seeing high user engagement
  • Noice has 8 team members, and it is hiring for over 15 roles
  • The Company will use the raised funds to build the Noice platform with the goal of launching in an open beta of the platform in early 2022

Miniclip acquires Supersonic Software (link)

  • UK-based mobile gaming company Miniclip has acquired Supersonic Software and its subsidiary Appy Nation for undisclosed consideration
  • Supersonic is focused on casual puzzle games such as Puzzle Page, Picture Cross and World’s Biggest Crossword

Others

Epic Games launches Unreal Engine 5 early access, shows massive 3D scenes (link)

  • After years of work, Epic Games is launching early access for game developers for Unreal Engine 5, the latest version of the Company’s tools for making games with highly realistic 3D animations
  • Unreal Engine 5 will deliver the freedom, fidelity, and flexibility to create next-generation games, said Nick Penwarden, the vice president of engineering, in an interview with GamesBeat
  • Founded in 1991, Epic now has 3,200 employees

 

Sony confirms it's exploring "mobile market with some wonderful PlayStation franchises" (link)

  • Sony has confirmed its intentions to move into the mobile market by exploring the sector with a number of PlayStation franchises during a corporate strategy meeting on May 25th
  • “Mobile is just one of the areas we are exploring to reach millions of gamers beyond our platforms,” said Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan. “We are exploring the mobile market with some wonderful PlayStation franchises so please stay tuned"
  • Sony Pictures is adapting a number of game franchises for film and TV, with 10 projects noted to be in various stages of development

Gaming Public Multiples

gaming-weekly-22

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 22

Highlights

Netmarble releases FQ1 2021 earnings (link)

  • Netmarble generated $512M in revenue representing a 7% increase YoY and $56M of net profit representing an 8% increase YoY
  • North America accounted for 36% of the revenue, with Korea accounting for 29%, Europe for 12%, and Japan for 9%
  • Netmarble’s top game, The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross accounted for 15% of revenue, with MARVEL Contest of Champions accounting for 12%, and Seven Knights 2 for 11%

Nvidia quarterly revenues grow 84% to $5.66B (link)

  • Nvidia reported revenues of $5.66B for its first fiscal quarter ended May 2, up 84% from a year earlier
  • Gaming revenue grew 106% to $2.76B, exceeding Wall Street’s expectations
  • The Santa Clara, California-based company makes graphics processing units (GPUs) that can be used for games, AI, and datacenter computing
  • The Company saw record revenue in its gaming, datacenter, and professional visualization platforms

M&A and Capital Raising

E Virtuix raises $19M for Omni One VR treadmill (link)

  • The Austin, Texas-based Virtuix will use the proceeds to launch Omni One, an omni-directional treadmill for consumers that lets players walk and run inside games and virtual worlds
  • Virtuix’s Reg A campaign allowed anyone to purchase shares in Virtuix, and the minimum investment was only $1,000. More than 6,500 investors participated in the round

Esports brand Fnatic raises $17M for Asia expansion (link)

  • The investment from Marubeni and other investors will help the Company expand in the growing Japanese and Asia Pacific esports markets
  • The investment will accelerate Fnatic’s growth in the substantial Asia-Pacific market with a new strategic partnership that will incorporate the expansion of Fnatic’s base of operations in Japan and support for its Rainbow Six: Siege team, which plans to relocate to the country
  • The Company was founded in 2004, and it has raised $53M to-date with 110 employees

Double Loop raises $8M for mobile game development (link)

  • Hiro Capital led the round for the female-run game studio with additional participation from Garena, Riot Games, London Venture Partners
  • The studio aims to create games for all types of players, designed to be social, relaxing, and accessible
  • Double Loop has 14 employees, and it is hiring at least four more to handle production and is currently focused on development of its mobile puzzle hybrid game

1047 Games raises $6.5M to develop free-to-play shooter Splitgate (link)

  • Based remotely and in Zephyr Cove, Nevada, the game studio already launched Splitgate in early beta form in 2019 to positive reception
  • Galaxy Interactive led the round, with participation from VGames, Lakestar, and 1Up Ventures
  • It will now use the funding to substantially increase the production of in-game content and ramp up marketing efforts to acquire new players

Noice raises $5M for ‘playful’ social platform for gamers (link)

  • Noice has said it is developing a platform that combines user-generated content, deep game systems, and engaging social design
  • The new platform is in early testing and is seeing high user engagement
  • Noice has 8 team members, and it is hiring for over 15 roles
  • The Company will use the raised funds to build the Noice platform with the goal of launching in an open beta of the platform in early 2022

Miniclip acquires Supersonic Software (link)

  • UK-based mobile gaming company Miniclip has acquired Supersonic Software and its subsidiary Appy Nation for undisclosed consideration
  • Supersonic is focused on casual puzzle games such as Puzzle Page, Picture Cross and World’s Biggest Crossword

Others

Epic Games launches Unreal Engine 5 early access, shows massive 3D scenes (link)

  • After years of work, Epic Games is launching early access for game developers for Unreal Engine 5, the latest version of the Company’s tools for making games with highly realistic 3D animations
  • Unreal Engine 5 will deliver the freedom, fidelity, and flexibility to create next-generation games, said Nick Penwarden, the vice president of engineering, in an interview with GamesBeat
  • Founded in 1991, Epic now has 3,200 employees

 

Sony confirms it's exploring "mobile market with some wonderful PlayStation franchises" (link)

  • Sony has confirmed its intentions to move into the mobile market by exploring the sector with a number of PlayStation franchises during a corporate strategy meeting on May 25th
  • “Mobile is just one of the areas we are exploring to reach millions of gamers beyond our platforms,” said Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan. “We are exploring the mobile market with some wonderful PlayStation franchises so please stay tuned"
  • Sony Pictures is adapting a number of game franchises for film and TV, with 10 projects noted to be in various stages of development

Gaming Public Multiples

gaming-weekly-21

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 21

Highlights

TTWO Reports FQ4 2021 Earnings (link)

  • TTWO reported FQ4 2021 net bookings that exceeded expectations
    • Reported FQ4 2021 net bookings of $785M, representing an 8% increase YoY and exceeding prior outlook ($602M - $652M) and consensus ($661M)
    • Reported FQ4 2021 digitally-delivered net bookings of $724M, representing an 8% increase YoY
    • Reported FY 2021 net bookings of $3,553M, representing a 19% increase YoY and exceeding prior outlook ($3,370M-$3,420M) and consensus ($3,431M)
    • Reported FY 2021 digitally-delivered net bookings of $3,095M, representing a 27% increase YoY
  • Franchise Highlights
    • NBA 2K 2021 has sold 10M units and has more than 2.3M users playing the game daily
    • Red Dead Redemption 2 has sold over 37M units worldwide to-date
    • 2K announced its acquisition of HB Studios, the developer of PGA TOUR 2K21, which has sold more than 2M units to-date
    • Social Point's live games, led by Dragon City and Monster Legends, exceeded expectations and helped to drive net bookings growth of nearly 30% for the quarter and 44% for the year
    • Social Point is planning to release three new titles during the second half of fiscal 2022
    • In FQ4 2021, TTWO’s catalog accounted for $515M of net bookings (66%) led by Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and Sid Meier’s Civilization

Post-IDFA Alliance finds iOS 14.5 caused up to 21% growth in Android ad spending (link)

  • Liftoff announced that 64%-83% of users are opting out of being tracked
  • The Post-IDFA Alliance of mobile marketing companies — Liftoff, AdColony, Fyber, Chartboost, InMobi, Vungle and Singular — released data from their experiences with mobile marketing in the wake of the launch of iOS 14.5 that showed spending on the Android platform is up 21%
  • While many marketers decreased spend on iOS in the wake of 14.5, the change seems to be relatively minor, ranging from only 3%-4%
  • Impression costs on iOS 14.5 are down, with the cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) showing a decline, ranging from 2%-9%

Snapchat games have reached more than 200M people (link)

  • Snap said that the Company’s Snapchat games have reached more than 200M players in the past two years, up from about 100M a year ago
  • ~30M Snapchat users play Snap Games every month and more than 30 games have debuted on Snapchat in the past couple of years
  • Snap has partnered with Unity so that developers can bring Bitmoji avatars into their mobile, PC, and consoles games through the Unity platform

M&A and Capital Raising

Forte raises $185M at $1B valuation for blockchain game platform (link)

Griffin Gaming Partners led the Round

  • Forte is an infrastructure company, using blockchain tech to enable new kinds of game economies
  • Forte’s economic technology, which is available by invitation only and still in beta, aims to address the growing misalignment between game developers, players, and fans
  • It enables the creation of new gameplay and world designs that directly support the long-term health of a game through cooperative token-based economics, or what Forte calls “community economics.”
  • New and existing investors including Union Grove Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, and Canaan also participated in the round

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery publisher Jam City will launch SPAC at $1.2B value, buy Ludia for $175M (link)

  • Jam City has filed to go public via SPAC and is using some of the proceeds to buy Canadian mobile game publisher Ludia for $175M
  • Before the acquisition, Jam City had more than 825 employees and nine studios at the end of the first quarter, and with Ludia will add nearly 400 more employees
  • Jam City will combine with DPCM Capital, which is led by Emil Michael, Uber’s former chief business officer
  • The deal values the combined company at an enterprise value of $1.2B, and will support future M&A and other strategic initiatives with the expected addition of approximately $115M of cash to Jam City’s balance sheet, including a committed PIPE of $100M
    • Represents a combined 1.38x multiple on 2022E Bookings
    • Represents a combined 10.7x multiple on 2022E Adj. EBITDA

 

JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot Games raises $40M (link)

  • Bad Robot Games, the game division of JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot entertainment company, has raised more than $40M to build games that are “as compelling to watch as they are to play”
  • Galaxy Interactive led the round, with additional participation from Horizons Ventures, Iconiq Capital, and Tencent
  • Bad Robot Games’ first internally developed title will be an original AAA game
  • The Company has raised more than $50M to date and has 20 employees

Madfinger Games raises $6M from Nuverse (link)

  • Czech developer Madfinger Games has raised $6M from Hong Kong-based publisher Nuverse
  • The funds raised will be used to expand Madfinger's team for existing IP and new games
  • Founded in 2010, Madfinger is best known for its mobile shooters such as the Shadowgun franchise and Unkilled, which have been downloaded more the 300M times

Game Taco agrees to buy skill-based games publisher WorldWinner from Sony (link)

  • Game Taco has agreed to acquire WorldWinner, a skill-based publisher that makes games where people can wager money and win cash
  • WorldWinner’s portfolio of games includes Solitaire Rush, Bejeweled, Wheel of Fortune, Scrabble Cubes, Angry Birds: Champions, and Two Dots
  • The combined companies will have more than 60 full-time employees

Vungle acquires mobile ad creative firm TreSensa Technologies (link)

  • New York-based TreSensa provides app developers with a suite of tools to make playables and fully customizable gameplay ad engines through its cloud-based tools for large gaming and brand studios
  • The Company’s clients include game and app companies Zynga, GSN, Electronic Arts, Etermax, Mag Interactive, Mars Petcare, and Kraft Foods Group

Kochava acquires DigiCenter for privacy-first data collection (link)

  • Through the acquisition, the Kochava Collective, the world’s largest independent mobile-first data marketplace, will further bolster its owned data footprint from FreeAppAnalytics with identity data elements from Digicenter
  • The Kochava Collective is a privacy-first data marketplace with key data points on over nine billion unique devices globally, including the largest hashed email file
  • With the acquisition of DigiCenter, the Kochava Collective now has more than a billion hashed emails within its substantial device database

Others

Xbox Game Studios' formalizes relationship with Call of Duty: Mobile developer TiMi (link)

  • TiMi Studios, a game development wing of Tencent Games just announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft's Xbox Game Studios
  • TiMi has developed and currently operates top-grossing games ranging from Honor of Kings and Ace Racer in China to Call of Duty: Mobile
  • The developer is also working with The Pokémon Company to launch Pokémon Unite MOBA

Google Stadia breaks through 3M app downloads (link)

  • Google Stadia's mobile app has generated 3.2M downloads 18 months post-launch, with roughly half of the downloads coming from the US
  • 73% of installs originated from Google Play, with the remaining 27% from the App Store
  • "We're well on our way to over 100 new games launching on Stadia in 2021, and we're continuing to make Stadia a great place to play games on devices you already own," said Stadia developer marketing lead Nate Ahearn

Voodoo extends partnership with Snapchat, five more games coming to platform (link)

  • Snap and Voodoo have extended their partnership to bring five more games to the Snapchat platform
  • Voodoo will exclusively bring multiplayer entries of hypercasual hits Hole.io and Crowd City to Snap Games, alongside three currently unknown titles
  • Voodoo initially launched Aquapark IO on Snap Games in late November 2020, which has accumulated close to 45M players

Gaming Public Multiples

gaming-weekly-20

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 20

Highlights

AppLovin Reports FQ1 2021 Earnings (link)

  • FQ1 2021 Results
    • Reported FQ1 2021 total revenue of $604M, representing a 132% increase YoY, and exceeding consensus of $557M
    • Reported FQ1 2021 adj. EBITDA $131M, representing a 110% increase YoY, and exceeding consensus of $125M
  • FY 2020 Outlook
    • FY 2020 total revenue of $2,650M – $2,700M, exceeding consensus of $2,509M
    • FY 2020 adj. EBITDA $680M – $700M, exceeding consensus of $665M
  • Acquisition Strategy
    • AppLovin completed its acquisition of Adjust, a global mobile app measurement and marketing company, during FQ1 2021
    • The Company also acquired Mobile games West Game and Cash Tornado Slots during the quarter
    • After its Mobile game acquisitions this quarter, the Company now has games in every major Mobile genre
    • On additional acquisition targets, AppLovin noted that almost all of its acquisitions were initially clients and that the Company will be content-focused in acquisitions going forward, in Gaming or other verticals
    • “As we continue to grow our content portfolio, gain access to data, and improve the efficacy of our marketing software, we see a path to outsized growth for years to come.” – AppLovin CEO and Co-Founder, Adam Foroughi

EA Reports FQ4 2021 Earnings (link)

  • FQ4 2021 Results
    • Reported FQ4 2021 net bookings of $1,490M, representing a 19% increase YoY, and exceeding prior outlook of $1,375M 
      • Reported FQ4 2021 Live Services & Other net bookings of $1,303M, representing a 32% increase YoY
      • Reported FQ4 2021 Full Game net bookings of $187M, representing a 30% decrease YoY
      • EA repurchased 2.4M shares for $325M during FQ4 2021
  • FY 2021 Results
    • Reported FY 2021 net bookings of $6,190M, representing a 15% increase YoY, and exceeding prior outlook of $6,075M
      • FY 2021 net bookings of $6,190M is more than $600M above original expectations
      • Reported FY 2021 Live Services & Other net bookings of $4,592M, representing a 28% increase YoY
      • Reported FY 2021 Full Game net bookings of $1,598M, representing a 10% decrease YoY
      • The Company repurchased a total of 5.6M shares for $729M during FY 2021
  • Business Highlights
    • Delivered 13 new games and had more than 42M new players join the EA network during FY 2021
    • FIFA 21 has more than 25M LTD PC/Console players
    • FIFA Ultimate Team players grew 16% YoY and matches were up 180% in FY 2021
    • Apex Legends has more than 100M LTD players on PC/Console
    • The Sims 4 has almost 36M LTD players and delivered its sixth consecutive year of franchise growth

Playtika Reports FQ1 2021 Earnings (link)

  • FQ1 2021 Results
    • Reported FQ1 2021 revenue of $639M, representing a 20% increase YoY, and exceeding consensus of $585M
    • Reported Adj. EBITDA of $258M (40% margin), representing a 39% increase YoY, and exceeding consensus of $210M
    • Reported net income of $36M (6% margin), which in-line with FQ1 2020, but below consensus of $42M
    • Playtika has available liquidity, defined as cash and cash equivalents and its undrawn revolving credit facility, of over $1.5B
  • Portfolio Highlights
    • Casual portfolio grew revenue 30% YoY
    • Casino-themed portfolio grew revenue 12% YoY
    • Geographic revenue mix: US (71%), Europe (14%), APAC (8%), RoW (7%)
    • Six of Playtika’s top nine games grew revenue over 20% YoY
    • Bingo Blitz, which is now 10 years old and Playtika’s second largest game by revenue, grew revenue 40% YoY (like that the title has legs this long into its lifespan)
  • Key Performance Indicators
    • DAUs of 10.4M, down 10% YoY
    • MAUs of 31.4M, down 15% YoY
    • Average DPUs of 296k, up 9% YoY
    • Average daily payer conversion of 2.8%, up from 2.3% in FQ1 2020
    • ARPDAU of $0.68, up 36% YoY

Roblox Reports FQ1 2021 Earnings (link)

  • FQ1 2021 Results
    • Reported FQ1 2021 bookings of $652M, representing a 161% increase YoY, and exceeding consensus of $573M
    • Reported FQ1 2021 revenue of $387M, representing a 140% increase YoY
    • Reported FQ1 2021 operating cash flow of $165M, growing nearly 4x YoY
  • Key Performance Indicators
    • DAUs grew 79% YoY to 42.1M
      • 87% growth in DAUs outside of the US/Canada
      • 111% growth in DAUs over the age of 13
    • DAUs composition by region: US & Canada (12.6M), Europe (12.5M), RoW (10.6M), APAC (6.5M)
    • DAUs composition by age group: U13 (21.3M), O13 (20.5M), Unknown (0.3M)
    • Hours engaged grew 98% YoY to 9,674M hours
      • 104% growth in engagement in markets outside of the US/Canada
      • 128% growth from users over the age of 13
    • Average Bookings per DAU (ABPDAU) grew 46% YoY to $15.48

SciPlay Reports FQ1 2021 Earnings (link)

  • SciPlay reported significant growth in YoY revenue and AEBITDA with modest increases QoQ, but lower than expected diluted EPS
    • Reported FQ1 2021 revenue of $151M representing a 28% increase YoY and 3% increase QoQ, exceeding consensus of $145M
    • Reported FQ1 2021 AEBITDA of $46M representing a 32% increase YoY and 2% increase QoQ, exceeding consensus of $45M
    • Reported diluted EPS of $0.21 vs consensus of $0.24
  • Monetization KPIs improved YoY in FQ1 2021, but MAUs and DAUs declined YoY
    • FQ1 2021 ARPDAU of $0.67 vs FQ1 2020 ARPDAU of $0.49, representing a 37% increase YoY
    • FQ1 2021 AMRPPU of $92.80 vs FQ1 2020 AMRPPU of $83.58, representing an 11% increase YoY
    • FQ1 2021 Payer Conversion of 8.1% vs FQ1 2020 Payer Conversion of 6.3%
    • FQ1 2021 MAUs of 6.7M vs FQ1 2020 MAUs of 7.5M, representing a 11% decrease YoY
    • FQ1 2021 DAUs of 2.5M vs FQ1 2020 MAUs of 2.6M, representing a 4% decrease YoY

Ubisoft Reports FY 2020-21 Earnings (link)

  • Financial Performance
    • Reported FY 2020-21 Net Bookings of $2,723M (+46% YoY) versus guidance of $2,693M-$2,766M and consensus of $2,771M
    • Reported FY 2020-21 Operating Income of $575M versus guidance of $546M-$607M and consensus of $559M
    • Reported FY 2020-21 Net Income of $381M versus consensus of $322M
    • Digital Net Bookings grew 28% YoY to $1,955M and comprised 72% of total Net Bookings
  • Business Highlights
    • All time high activity with 141M unique players on PC and Console (up 20% YoY)
    • Assassin’s Creed franchise set a yearly record and Rainbow Six became one of the top 10 most played games in 2020 among premium and F2P console titles, with double-digit player acquisition growth
    • The Division reached 40M unique players
    • Ubisoft Connect was rolled out, an ecosystem of player services for all Ubisoft games across all platforms

Unity Reports FQ1 2021 Earnings (link)

  • FQ1 2021 Results
    • Reported FQ1 2021 Revenue of $235M, representing a 41% increase YoY and exceeding consensus of $217M
    • Reported FQ1 2021 Gross Profit of $176M (75% margin), representing a 30% increase YoY and exceeding consensus of $170M
    • Reported FQ1 2021 Operating Profit (Loss) of ($111M), compared to ($27M) in FQ1 2020 and consensus of ($94M)
    • Reported FQ1 2021 EPS of ($0.39), compared to ($0.21) in FQ1 2020 and consensus of ($0.31)
    • Unity’s first quarter 2021 results were impacted by an increase in stock-based compensation expense primarily related to the satisfaction of the performance vesting condition on outstanding RSUs upon completion of its IPO
  • Business Unit Performance
    • Create Solutions
      • Revenue: $70M (increase of 51% YoY)
    • Operate Solutions
      • Revenue: $147M (increase of 40% YoY)
    • Strategic Partnerships & Other
      • Revenue: $18M (increase of 12% YoY)
    • 837 customers each generated more than $100,000 of revenue in the trailing 12 months as of March 31, 2021, compared to 668 as of March 31, 2020
    • Dollar-based net expansion rate as of March 31, 2021 was 140% as compared to 133% as of March 31, 2020

M&A and Capital Raising

Animoca Brands raises $88M at $1B valuation to capitalize on game NFTs (link)

  • Investors in the round included Kingsway Capital, RIT Capital Partners, HashKey Fintech Investment, AppWorks, LCV, Perennial, Axia Infinity Ventures, SNZ, and Liberty City Ventures among others
  • Animoca Brands has had strong initial results with blockchain games including F1 Delta Time, The Sandbox, and MotoGP Ignition; and has launched associated tokens including Revv and Sand
  • The Company has made investments in Dapper Labs, Opensea, Bitski, Axie Infinity, and many others

Big Time Studios is raising $21M to bring NFTs to game economies (link)

  • The funding comes in two parts: $10M in a round led by FBG Capital with additional participation from North Island Ventures, Digital Currency Group, OKEx Blockdream Ventures, Alameda Research, Circle Financial, and Sound Ventures; and $11M from the Company’s fund that it will use to invest in game companies that adopt its technology
  • The Company’s flagship game is Big Time, an adventure across space and time that puts the player in the driver’s seat of their own time machine, allowing them to collect legendary items from amazing historical battles
  • Development on Big Time is underway for PC, with an announcement for the beta coming later this year; the studio expects to launch the game in 2022

Sky Mavis raises $7.5M for NFT-based Axie Infinity game (link)

  • Investors in the round include Blocktower Capital, Konvoy Ventures, Libertus, Collab + Currency’s Derek Schloss and Stephen McKeon, and Mark Cuban
  • Axie has grown in recent months to 36,000 daily active users and $12M in monthly NFT volume traded
  • The Company is hiring traditional game developers to make the game more fun and is lowering the barriers of entry to allow all gamers to play

Hiro Capital invests $6.4M in Twin Suns and FRVR game startups (link)

  • London-based Hiro Capital is investing in game creators in video games, esports, gamified fitness, and the metaverse
  • Twin Suns is building an unannounced triple-A cross-platform title that will debut with an original game franchise
  • The Twin Suns team has 13 people and plans on hiring more people over the summer
  • FRVR is an instant games ecosystem platform for gameplay on any device and has games including FRVR Basketball
  • FRVR has been in business for five years, and it has a team of 45 people

Former Blizzard and Epic veterans raise $5M for Lightforge Games (link)

  • Investors in the round included Galaxy Interactive, NetEase Games, Dreamhaven, Maveron, 1UP Ventures, and angel investors
  • North Carolina-based Lightforge Games is working on a cross-platform social RPG where players have the power to create worlds and tell stories with freedom
  • Lightforge is a team of 11 people and with immediate plans of hiring three more

Allstar raises $3.9M so gamers can share snackable game highlights (link)

  • Members of the New York Angels led the round with additional participation from Studio.vc, Emerging Ventures, and J-Ventures among others
  • The platform helps casual gamers and rising competitive esports players alike share their biggest highlights with a growing network of supportive users, as well as organizations or coaching staffs
  • The funding will help Allstar enhance the company’s current product offering, integrate new titles onto its growing platform, and expand its hiring and partnership efforts
  • Beyond its own network, Allstar’s creative automation technology integrates with platforms like Discord; and the Company recently announced a partnership with TikTok

Hidden Leaf Games raises $3.2M on a MOBA gambit called Fangs (link)

  • The round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners with additional participation from Vermillion Ventures and angel investors
  • The team is focused on making a PC game first, and then it will extend it to mobile devices as well, with the ultimate goal being a cross-platform game
  • Hidden Leaf chose a 3-on-3 MOBA instead of 5-on-5 as in League of Legends because it makes for a less chaotic and more accessible game, with a chance for shorter matches
  • The team of 32 has been working for 18 months and the game is entering its alpha testing now with plans to go into beta testing and subsequently launching later this year

Wilder World raises $3M for a metaverse built around NFT art (link)

  • The $3M round was led by Spartan Group, with additional participation from DCG, Animoca Brands, Republic Realm, and Signum Capital
  • In the past three months, Wilder World has launched its $WILD token and recruited more than 250 crypto artists and collectors to the platform
  • The Company has more than 15,000 subscribers and secured partnerships with more than 80 influencers in the crypto ecosystem

Krafton snaps up mobile games studio Dreamotion (link)

  • South Korean gaming company Krafton has announced its acquisition of mobile gaming studio Dreamotion for an undisclosed sum
  • Established in July 2016, Dreamotion has developed and published three games: Samurai, Road to Valor: World War II, Gun Strider: Tap Strike
  • After the acquisition, Dreamotion will continue to work as an independent studio alongside Krafton's other studios, Blue Hole Studio, Rising Wings, and Strike Distance Studio

Others

Nintendo willing to utilize $9B war chest for acquisitions - when needed (link)

  • Nintendo has confirmed that it would be open to making more acquisitions to keep up with "rapidly advancing technological innovation"
  • In January, Nintendo announced that it would purchase Luigi's Mansion 3 developer Next Level Games - marking its first acquisition in over a decade

Gaming Public Multiples

gaming-weekly-19

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 19

Highlights

Activision Blizzard Reports Q1 2021 Earnings (link)

  • ATVI reported increased YoY revenue during FQ1 2021, and strong growth in its core franchises
    • Reported FQ1 2021 revenue ex-deferrals of $2,066M representing a 36% increase YoY, and exceeding prior revenue outlook of $1,750M
    • FQ1 2021 digital net revenue increased 39% YoY to $2,006M, representing 88% of total net revenue
    • The previously announced cash dividend of $0.47 per common share, is payable on May 6th, 2021 (representing a 15% increase from 2020)
  • ATVI Business Highlights and Recent Events
    • ATVI indicated strong investments in growth with the intention to hire more than 2,000 developers over the next two years, and triple the size of certain franchise teams by the end of 2022 as compared to 2019
    • Call of Duty provides a template that ATVI will apply to other proven franchises in attempt to grow its audiences to 1 billion players
    • The Company is seeing a business shift from a seasonal focus with a holiday emphasis to an always-on business model with far less seasonality due to Live Operations
    • From an M&A perspective, ATVI is generally looking for large established franchises or technologies that have the potential for scale, strong leadership teams with a track record of profitability, and an attractive valuation to satisfy its return threshold
    • The Company indicated that it would like all of its franchises on Mobile, whether it be reimaginations of an IP on Mobile or more similar to an existing PC/Console experience

Skillz Reports Q1 2021 Earnings (link)

  • Skillz reported record revenue, marking 21 consecutive quarters of revenue growth, and raised FY 2021 guidance from $366M to $375M
    • Reported FQ1 2021 revenue of $84M representing a 92% increase YoY, and exceeding consensus of $79M
    • Reported FQ1 2021 GMV of $567M, up 85% YoY and versus consensus of $530M
    • Reported FQ1 2021 Gross Profit of $79M, up 95% YoY and versus consensus of $76M
    • Reported FQ1 2021 EBITDA of -$31M versus consensus of -$34M
  • Key Performance Indicators
    • Reported FQ1 2021 MAUs of 2.7M, up 13% QoQ
    • Reported FQ1 2021 ARPU of $10.35, up 10% QoQ
    • Reported FQ1 2021 pMAUs of 0.467M, up 19% QoQ
    • Reported FQ1 2021 ARPPU of $60, up 3% QoQ
  • Business Highlights & Recent Events
    • Business Highlights
      • Expanded Android footprint, growing revenue from Android users 2x faster than iOS
      • Announced multi-year agreement with the NFL to allow competing developers the opportunity to develop an NFL-themed mobile game
      • Skillz is on track to launch in India by the end of 2021 and is investing in localizing the product, including the payment systems
      • The Company plans to expand into other international markets in 2022 and beyond
      • Tetris Clash is currently in soft launch on the platform

Zynga Reports Q1 2021 Earnings (link)

  • Zynga reported record FQ1 results including highest quarterly revenue and bookings as well as DAUs and MAUs, driven by their Live Services Portfolio
    • Reported FQ1 2021 bookings of $720M, representing a 69.5% increase YoY, and exceeding prior bookings outlook of $680M
    • Reported FQ1 2021 international revenue of $268M, representing a 67% increase YoY, and international bookings of $278M, representing a 59% increase YoY
    • Reported an all-time best advertising revenue of $123M, representing a 108% increase YoY
  • Portfolio Performance & KPIs
    • Record revenue and bookings driven by an all-time best quarter for Zynga’s Social Slots portfolio, in addition to its highest Q1 performance by Empires & Puzzles, Words With Friends, CSR2, and its Casual Cards portfolio
    • Record average Mobile Daily Active Users (DAUs) of 38M (up 85% YoY)
    • Record average Mobile Monthly Active Users (MAUs) of 164M (up 139% YoY)
    • Mobile Average Bookings Per Mobile DAU (ABPU) was $0.202 for the period, (down 6% YoY)
    • Increases in DAUs and MAUs were primarily driven by recent additions of Toon Blast, Toy Blast, and Rollic’s hyper-casual portfolio
    • Bookings composition: Forever Franchises (66%), Other (19%), Social Slots & Casual Cards (15%)
  • Growth Highlights
    • Recently launched Puzzle Combat with additional new launches planned in 2021 and beyond
    • Zynga expects the release of FarmVille 3 and Star Wars: Hunters worldwide by the end of 2021
    • Cross-platform play development expanded with the announcement of Star Wars: Hunters and acquisition of Echtra
    • Record international revenue and bookings with Asia as a key contributor
  • Zynga pays Small Giant $240M for 6.7% in second performance earn-out (link)

Twitch mobile app hits 22M installs in Q1 2021, up 62% YoY (link)

  • US live streaming platform Twitch has seen huge growth via its mobile app, generating over 22M downloads in Q1 2021
  • In 2020, the Twitch app grew by 96% YoY to 17.6M

Newzoo: Global game market 2021 outlook (link)

  • The game industry had a booming year during 2020’s pandemic, and Newzoo believes it will be hard to beat last year’s numbers because of a confluence of forces, such as the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage and Apple’s push to prioritize privacy over targeted advertising
  • Newzoo forecasts the PC game market will decline 2.8% YoY to $35.9B in 2021. Of that, Newzoo forecasts $33.3B will be spent on downloaded/boxed games and $2.6B on browser games
  • For consoles, Newzoo forecasts the market will decline 8.9% to $49.2B as the after-effects of COVID-19 shape the console market this year

Nintendo Switch hits 84.59M units sold, with 28.8M sold this past year (link)

  • Nintendo reported its year-end financial results today and said the Switch sold more than 28.8M consoles, up 37.1% in the past 12 months that ended March 31
  • Lifetime sales of the Switch are now at 84.59M consoles, with 587.12M copies of software
  • That means it has outdistanced the Nintendo 3DS, which sold 75.94M systems and 386.48M copies of software
  • Nintendo forecasted that it could sell another 26.5M Switch consoles in the next year ending March 31, 2022

My.Games grew Q1 FY21 revenues 42% to $147M (link)

  • Russian PC and mobile games company My.Games has published its financial results for the first quarter of 2021
  • The Company witnessed strong growth up 42% YoY, reaching $147M in revenue
  • Grand Hotel Mania, Rush Royale, Zero City, War Robots, and Conqueror’s Blade led the revenue growth in this quarter, with around 98% of revenues coming from MMO games
  • The Company had 22.7M monthly active users: 4.8% are paying customers

Krafton announces Battlegrounds Mobile India (link)

  • South Korean game maker Krafton has announced Battlegrounds Mobile India, the rebranded version of PUBG Mobile India
  • With privacy and data protection being a top priority for the Indian government, Krafton will be working with various partners to ensure data protection and security, at each stage
  • In the initial phase Battlegrounds Mobile will offer a series of local events and have its regional esports ecosystem with tournaments and leagues

M&A and Capital Raising

PlayStation invests in Discord and plans integration with PSN in 2022 (link)

  • In a blog post, Sony Interactive Entertainment head Jim Ryan explained that this connection will enable some form of communication between users on PSN and the Discord app on PC and mobile
  • As part of this deal, Sony is also making an investment in Discord, but the companies did not disclose the amount of the investment
  • Discord has more than 140M people using it each month, and is the go-to solution for gamers looking to connect with one another

EA acquires Super Mega Baseball developer Metalhead (link)

  • EA Sports has hits with the Madden and FIFA franchises, but it hasn’t released an MLB game since its MVP Baseball series ended in 2005
  • The Super Mega Baseball series has received praise from fans and critics, but it does not have an MLB license, so it can’t use MLB teams or players

Zynga buys mobile ad and monetization firm Chartboost for $250M (link)

  • With this transaction, Zynga is reaching outside of its usual food chain to another part of the industry — mobile game marketing, advertising, and monetization
  • Chartboost is an advertising platform that has been around since 2011, and it is a big mobile programmatic advertising and monetization platform
  • It reaches more than 700M monthly users and 90B monthly advertising auctions

Metacore secures $179.9M in credit from Supercell for casual games (link)

  • The investment shows what Helsinki-based Supercell is willing to do with the cash it generates from mobile gaming hits like Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Hay Day, and Brawl Stars
  • Since releasing its first game (Merge Mansion) in late 2020, Metacore’s annual revenue run rate has reached $54M, putting the Company on track to become one of the fastest-growing game studios in Europe
  • Merge Mansion is a puzzle game with more than 800,000 daily players. The new funding will help boost Merge Mansion’s global operations and strengthen Metacore’s core team

Genies raises $65M to boost avatars for virtual identity and wearable digital goods (link)

  • Genies wants to become the virtual identity for people to express themselves in the digital world. It started with celebrities to capture moments for events such as album releases, song drops, and guest appearances, and it saw greater use over the pandemic
  • Bond led the round, with participation from NEA, Breyer Capital, Tull Investment Group, NetEase, Dapper Labs, and Coinbase Ventures
  • The investment proceeds will be used to invest in the technology behind the Genie avatar system and to continue to build out the digital goods marketplace on Dapper Lab’s Flow platform

Ace Games raises $7M in seed funding (link)

  • The round was led by local VC Actera Group, and included other independent investors
  • Founded in September 2020 by a former Peak Games co-founder, Hakan Bas, Ace Games currently runs two studios

Carry1st raises $6M to publish mobile games in Africa (link)

  • Carry1st has raised $6M in funding for its mobile game publishing platform targeted at the untapped potential of the African market
  • Africa has around 1.1B members of the Millennial and Generation Z groups, who are big technology adopters
  • Carry1st says it provides a full publishing solution, handling distribution, localization, user acquisition, marketing, customer experience, and monetization for its partners

Arcturus raises $5M for holographic imaging in games and entertainment (link)

  • Arcturus today announced it has raised $5M in funding for tools that enable developers to create realistic holographic characters based on recorded video
  • Bitkraft Ventures led the round, with participation from leaders in the sports, telecom, gaming, and music space

BigBrain raises $4.5M and launches trivia game with real-money prizes (link)

  • BigBrain is launching its BigBrain trivia game where you can win real-money prizes. The Company has raised $4.5M to build it
  • The iOS game will let people win up to thousands of dollars in a match, depending on how many people are playing, and each player will pay an entry fee of as little as $1
  • The seed round financing for Brooklyn, New York-based Big Brain came from FirstRound Capital, Box Group, Ludlow Ventures, Golden Ventures, and others

Others

Riot Games will launch Wild Rift esports tournament in late 2021 (link)

  • The Company hopes to apply the lessons of a decade of League of Legends esports to the mobile game
  • Riot Games wants to build a similar community for Wild Rift
  • League of Legends: Wild Rift is a 5-on-5 multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) experience of League of Legends, developed for console and mobile by Riot Games

World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic prepares for June 1 launch (link)

  • Blizzard Entertainment announced that World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic will launch for PC on June 1
  • Burning Crusade was the first expansion for Blizzard’s hit MMO. It debuted in 2007

Gaming Public Multiples