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GGP Gaming Weekly – March 1

Highlights

Game companies raise donations for Ukraine, cut Russian ties (link)

  • Several gaming companies have responded to the war by donating, calling for additional donations, cutting ties with Russia, and supporting Ukraine-based developers
  • Select gaming companies formally responding in this way include 11 Bit Studios, GOG, GSC Game World, Upland, DMarket, Frogwares, Tallboys, Ubisoft, Riot Games, Sengi Games, Beatshapers, CD Projekt Red, Bungie, 4A Games, and Beetlewing among others
     

Playtika reported FQ4 2021 earnings (link)

  • Financial Highlights
    • FQ4 2021
      • Reported FQ4 2021 Revenue of $649M, representing a 13% increase YoY and exceeding consensus of $637M by 2%
      • Reported FQ4 2021 Direct to Consumer Revenue of $141M, representing 22% of total revenue compared to 16% in FQ4 2020
      • Reported FQ4 2021 Adjusted EBITDA of $213M, representing a 1% increase YoY and in-line with consensus of $213M
      • Reported FQ4 2021 Net Income of $102M, representing a 35% increase YoY and exceeding consensus of $71M by 44%
    • FY 2021
      • Reported FY 2021 Revenue of $2.6B, representing a 9% increase YoY and in-line with consensus of $2.6B
      • Reported FY 2021 Adjusted EBITDA of $983M, representing a 4% increase YoY and in-line with consensus of $983M
      • Reported FY 2021 Net Income of $309M, representing a 235% increase YoY and exceeding consensus of $278M by 11%
      • Reported more than $1.7B of available liquidity through the Company’s Cash and Cash Equivalents and Revolving Credit Facility
  • Portfolio Performance and KPIs
    • Reported 35M Monthly Active Users across the Company’s casual and casino titles
    • Reported FQ4 2021 Average Daily Paying Users of 311k, representing a 14% increase YoY
    • Reported FQ4 2021 ARPDAU of $0.68, representing a 15% increase YoY
    • Reported FQ4 2021 Average Daily Payer Conversion of 3.0%, compared to 2.6% in FQ4 2020
    • Revenue from the Company’s casual portfolio grew 32% YoY and now comprises 52% of total Revenue
    • Revenue from World Series of Poker grew 7% QoQ and 8% YoY, Revenue from Bingo Blitz grew 18% YoY, and Revenue from Caesars Casino celebrated 10-years since release and grew 7% YoY
    • Revenue from newer titles Solitaire Grand Harvest and June’s Journey grew 60% and 36% YoY, respectively

 

PLAYSTUDIOS reported FQ4 2022 earnings (link)

  • Financial Highlights
    • FQ4 2021 Results
      • Reported FQ4 2021 revenue of $72M, representing a 12% increase YoY, and above consensus of $69M
      • Reported FQ4 2021 AEBITDA of $12M, compared to $9M in FQ4 2020, and above consensus of $8M
      • Reported FQ4 2021 net income of $0.6M, compared to a net loss of ($10.8M) in FQ4 2020, and above consensus of net loss of ($1.1M)
      • Reported $214M of cash and cash equivalents along with a revolving credit facility providing total liquidity of up to $364M
  • KPIs
    • FQ4 2021
      • Average DAU of 1.3M, which is flat YoY
      • Average MAU of 4.8M, representing a 25% increase YoY
      • Average DPUs of 33k, representing a 6% increase YoY
      • Average Daily Payer Conversion of 2.6%, up from 2.4% in FQ4 2020
      • ARPDAU of $0.61, representing a 13% increase YoY
    • FY 2021
      • Average DAU of 1.2M, representing a 15% decrease YoY
      • Average MAU of 4.1M, representing a 3% decrease YoY
      • Average DPUs of 34k, representing a 3% increase YoY
      • Average Daily Payer Conversion of 2.7%, up from 2.3% in FY 2020
      • ARPDAU of $0.63, representing a 24% increase YoY
         

Skillz reported FQ4 2021 earnings (link)

  • Financial Highlights
    • Reported FQ4 2021 Revenue of $109M representing a 61% increase YoY, compared to consensus of $114M
    • Reported FQ4 2021 GMV of $650M representing a 40% increase YoY, compared to consensus of $700M
    • Reported FQ4 2021 Gross Profit of $100M representing a 56% increase YoY, compared to consensus of $107M
    • Reported FQ4 2021 Adjusted EBITDA of ($78M), compared to consensus of ($38M)
    • Reported FQ4 RAEM of $52M representing a 49% increase YoY
  • KPIs
    • FQ4 2021
      • Reported FQ4 2021 MAUs of 3.7M representing a 54% increase YoY
      • Reported FQ4 2021 ARPU of $9.80 representing a 4% increase YoY
      • Reported FQ4 2021 pMAUs of 610k representing a 56% increase YoY
      • Reported FQ4 2021 ARPPU of $59.30 representing a 3% increase YoY
    • FY 2021
      • Reported FY 2021 MAUs of 3.0M representing a 15% increase YoY
      • Reported FY 2021 ARPU of $10.90 representing a 45% increase YoY
      • Reported FY 2021 pMAUs of 510k representing a 59% increase YoY
      • Reported FY 2021 ARPPU of $62.40 representing a 5% increase YoY

M&A and Capital Raises

Backbone raises $40M following iPhone peripheral launch (link)

  • The Company last year launched the Backbone One, its combination iPhone gaming controller peripheral and social platform
  • The Backbone One launched in 2021, and its paired app works in conjunction with Apple Arcade, as well as several cloud gaming services including Xbox Games Pass, GeForce Now, Stadia, and Amazon Luna, as well as PlayStation and Xbox remote play apps and Steam Link
  • The round was led by Index Ventures, with additional participation from Sound Ventures, Adjacent, and other investors


Aviron raises $18.5M as it plans to expand its entertainment content (link)

  • Aviron’s smart rowers are connected rowing machines that have built-in touchscreens that feature a number of games meant to be played while exercising
  • The Company will use the proceeds to bring more entertainment options, including Netflix, to its line of smart rowing machines, to augment the gamified experience for users
  • Stripes led the round, with additional participation from Global Founders Capital, Formic Ventures, and 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov


Jambo raises $7.5M to launch Web3 play-to-earn superapp (link)

  • Jambo is a technology platform that aims to connect African users to Web3 ecosystems around the world
  • Jambo has already signed 12,000 students from 15 countries. The students will take a special curriculum that will teach them about income opportunities in P2E games, and decentralized finance
  • The Company will use the proceeds to lower the barrier for entry to money-making opportunities in play-to-earn gaming for young people in Africa
  • Participants in the round include Coinbase, Three Arrows Capital, Alameda Research, Tiger Global, Delphi Digital, DeFiance Capital, Hashed, Polygon Studios, and others


Speech Graphics raises $7M for lip-synced facial animation (link)

  • Scotland-based Speech Graphics has expanded in response to increased demand for virtual assistants that can offer a consistent, humanized experience
  • Sands Capital led the round, and the Company will use the proceeds to build its audio-driven facial animation technology


Potato Play raises $5M, launches Merge Restaurant (link)

  • The funding round follows two previous rounds completed in 2020, one of $1.75M and one of $0.5M
  • The Company plans to use the proceeds to launch its new casual mobile title Merge Restaurant, further ongoing support, and scaling of the title moving forward, and expand its team
  • The round included participation from Everblue management, and repeat investors Play Ventures, Atlas Ventures, and Beenext


Tencent acquires 1C Entertainment (link)

  • Tencent has acquired Polish developer and publisher 1C Entertainment for an undisclosed consideration
  • 1C Entertainment has launched over 100 games to date and is best known as the publisher of aircraft simulator IL-2 Sturmovik, as well as the Men of War franchise


THQ Nordic acquires Metricminds (link)

  • THQ Nordic has acquired the Frankfurt-based studio Metricminds for an undisclosed consideration
  • Founded in 2001, the company specializes in creating animated content for other developers, from motion capture, facial, and keyframe animation to cutscenes, in-engine cinematics, and trailers
  • THQ Nordic says the core team of 40 people — which includes specialists from not only video games, but also film and broadcasting — has been retained

Other

Aonic commits to an over $100M investment to expand new gaming outfit (link)

  • The organization said that it aims to build a unit of studios for game development across mobile, console, PC, and VR
  • Mobile game developer TutoTOONS and mobile ad business AddApptr will be the first two companies to join the newly established group
  • Additionally, Aonic said that will be revealing three other studios that will be joining it soon
     

2K prepping a slate of LEGO games (link)

  • The new line of LEGO titles will begin with a soccer/football title intended to hit shelves around the November kick-off of World Cup 2024
  • The second 2K LEGO game will be a licensed open-world driving game launching next year from NBA 2K and WWE 2K studio Visual Concepts
  • The third game is not detailed, other than to say it will be another sports game based on a major franchise
     

Twitch viewership totaled 2B hours during January (link)

  • Twitch reached a viewership of over 2B hours watched in January, according to StreamElements analytics partner Rainmaker.gg
  • Facebook Gaming set a new record for the platform as it accumulated 617M hours during the month
  • League of Legends was the most-watched title with 179M hours of viewership


Microsoft is ending its Bethesda.net store and migrating to Steam (link)

  • Bethesda.net operates as a store for many of the publisher’s biggest games including The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Fallout 76
  • Beginning in April, users can begin migrating purchases made on Bethesda.net to Steam


Carbon Based Lifeforms announces Hyperspace, a play-and-earn sci-fi MMO (link)

  • Hyperspace is a new intellectual property for the Carbon Based Lifeforms. The game is set in a different galaxy, with eight playable races, hundreds of ships, and four currencies
  • The game is, tokenless and chain-agnostic, meaning that players have more freedom in how they approach the game
  • Hyperspace is powered by Metanomic, a tokenless game economy engine designed for Web3 games


Next iteration in the Call of Duty franchise is to be delayed beyond 2023 (link)

  • Activision Blizzard is delaying a Call of Duty title that had been scheduled to release in 2023, according to Bloomberg
  • However, it seems that Activision will release other Call of Duty content. The 2022 title, which Activision has already announced will be a sequel to 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  • There is also a new free-to-play online game that will be available in 2023 as well, and it appears that will be in addition to the eventual release of Warzone 2

 

Yield Guild Games partners with 48 game projects (link)

  • By the end of 2021, YGG had partnered with 48 projects in games, gaming guilds, and essential play-to-earn infrastructure. YGG has more than 100,000 Discord members
  • In total, YGG has spent $9.7M in partnering with projects by purchasing in-game NFT assets and tokens, both in-game tokens and governance tokens, that will enable YGG players to have access to more play-to-earn services
  • Q4 2021 was the most active quarter of 2021 with 27 new partnerships being solidified, totaling $5.5M. Of that, 55% went directly to play-to-earn games, 27% was for gaming guilds to expand the reach of YGG and 18% was targeted at platforms and infrastructure that would support the wider play-to-earn ecosystem
     

Jam City will auction its first Champions: Ascension characters (link)

  • Jam City is releasing 10,000 of its limited-edition Prime Eternals NFTs this week in its first upcoming blockchain game Champions: Ascension
  • The prime Eternals are the first characters known as champions that will be available for the Champions: Ascension fantasy-themed gladiatorial arena game with role-playing elements


Microsoft assembling team to support developers in China (link)

  • The team will help developers in China “reach a wider global audience”
  • The new staff will report to the Xbox Gaming Ecosystem Group, per the South China Morning Post. The group includes business strategy managers based in Shanghai that will assist local studios in releasing products on Xbox

 

It Takes Two wins game of the year at the DICE Awards (link)

  • It Takes Two had two awards, winning for Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Game Design
  • Insomniac’s Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart also won four awards for Achievement in Art Direction, Outstanding Technical Achievement, and Family Game of the Year
  • Ed Boon from NetherRealm Studios was the 2022 Hall of Fame inductee and Phil Spencer from Microsoft Gaming received the Lifetime Achievement Award
     

Knockout City leaving EA, going free-to-play (link)

  • Velan Studios is taking Knockout City free-to-play and will publish the game independently, following an initial publishing agreement with Electronic Arts
  • Players who had previously bought the title will be compensated with in-game rewards
  • Velan Studios also announced that it was going to self-publish its titles going forward, while acknowledging EA’s role in making the game an early success


Uncharted has 4th biggest opening for a game’s movie adaptation in the US (link)

  • Uncharted film adaptation generated $44M during its first three days in the US
  • Uncharted was released on February 18, with Tom Holland as protagonist Nathan Drake and Mark Wahlberg as Victor Sullivan
     

Riot Games to expand publishing efforts in APAC (link)

  • Riot Games has revealed that it has plans to expand its publishing operations in the Asia Pacific region (APAC)
  • To support its expansion the Company will establish new offices in the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand
  • The new studios will operate alongside the firm’s already established offices in Japan and Singapore


Krafton and Square Enix partner for PUBG New State and NieR collab (link)

  • Krafton has revealed a partnership with Square Enix for collaboration between mobile-exclusive PUBG New State and the NieR series which is an action RPG game published by Square Enix
  • This marks the second collaboration for PUBG New State since its launch in November 2021, with the first being a partnership with Bugatti Rimac to bring its latest car model into the battle royale
     

Call of Duty: Mobile surpasses $1.5B in consumer spending (link)

  • According to Sensor Tower, last year was the best performing full year for the game since launch, and Call of Duty: Mobile player spending was up 45% YoY
  • This was in part due to the game being released in China in December 2020, with over $104M in user spending on the Chinese App Store in 2021
  • The US is the largest market for Call of Duty: Mobile and has generated $647M in consumer spending since launch, representing approximately 43% of the total
     

GameSquare launches Fourth Frame content creation studio (link)

  • Major esports company GameSquare announced today it is launching Fourth Frame, a new content creation studio that will produce content for branded partners looking to enter the world of gaming
  • Fourth Frame will offer brands a full suite of creative services, including creating premium long-form and short-form video content, curating, and executing experiential in-person events, and conception of digital products and experiences, such as designing AR and VR environments in the metaverse

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