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GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 39

Highlights

August 2020 NPD: Madden and UFC supercharge U.S. game sales (link)

  • Consumers spent $3.3 billion on video game hardware, software, and accessories in August, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That’s up 37% year-over-year from $2.4 billion
  • Strong debuts for Madden and UFC as well as resilient performances for Final Fantasy VII Remake and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild fueled the growth

Nintendo Switch sets new August hardware sales record in the U.S. (link)

  • “Hardware spending increased 37% in August 2020 when compared to a year ago, to $229 million,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Nintendo Switch set a new U.S. August hardware dollar sales record, besting the August 2008 dollar sales of the Nintendo Wii. Nintendo Switch unit sales volume more than doubled when compared to a year ago.”

Apple revises App Store policies to allow Stadia and xCloud on iOS (link)

  • Apple has revised its App Store guidelines to allow game streaming services such as Google Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud to operate through the App Store
  • Games still must be added to the App Store individually, and therefore go through the same review process as other games, including for updates

Electronic Arts doubles down on EA Play brand with EA Desktop app (link)

  • EA says the service will have faster downloads and updates, simpler access to games, and the ability to connect with friends across platforms. Gamers will use the EA Desktop app to access subscriptions such as the newly renamed EA Play ($5 a month) and EA Play Pro ($15 a month)

Among Us hits 86.6 million downloads two years after release (link)

  • The game has hit the milestone just over two years after its June 2018 release. Last month, Among Us, experienced incredible growth as its install rate grew by 661% month-over-month, generating 18.4 million
  • The growth has continued in the first half of September, as the online party game brought in almost 42 million downloads, a month-on-month increase of 127%.
  • Across the combined 45 days of August and September, the game accumulated 70% of its total installs

Apple to roll all services into one subscription (link)

  • Apple is set to bring all of its subscriptions together under one service as confirmed in its Apple Event
  • The new subscription, dubbed Apple One, will include Apple Arcade, music, 50GB of iCloud storage as well as TV+

PlayStation leads in TV ad impressions, but Square Enix is close behind (link)

  • Gaming industry TV ad impressions saw an 87.7% increase from mid-August to mid-September, compared to the previous 30-day period. From August 16 through September 15, 12 gaming brands aired 49 spots over 6,500 times, resulting in 1.5 billion impressions
  • Sports, particularly NBA playoff games, were a large driver of impressions for the industry overall, and three brands dominated this time around: PlayStation, Square Enix, and Nintendo

Sony reveals release date and price (link)

  • The PlayStation 5 is $500 and the PlayStation 5: Digital Edition is $400, and both are launching November 12 in the U.S. and other territories. More regions will follow November 19

M&A and Capital Raising

Microsoft to acquire ZeniMax Media and its game publisher Bethesda Softworks (link)

  • Microsoft announced plans to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, one of the largest, privately held game developers and publishers in the world
  • Microsoft will acquire ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion in cash
  • With the addition of Bethesda, Microsoft will grow from 15 to 23 creative studio teams and will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass
  • The planned acquisition includes publishing offices and development studios spanning the globe with over 2,300 employees, including Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios

Unity’s stock rises 31% in first-day trading (link)

  • On its first official day of trading, the company rose more than 31%, opening at $75 per share before closing the day at $68.35
  • Unity’s share price gains came after pricing of the company’s stock at $52 per share, well above the range of $44 to $48 which was itself an upward revision of the company’s initial target
  • The share price implies a fully diluted market cap of $21.6 billion (accounting for over-allotment)

Stillfront acquires Nanobit in deal worth up to $148 million (link)

  • The Transaction will be executed in two tranches, whereof 78% of the shares in Nanobit will be purchased for an initial consideration of $100 million
    • $30 million of the First Tranche Consideration is payable in 280,542 newly issued shares in Stillfront to the founders and the remaining $70 million is payable in cash
  • 22% of the shares in Nanobit will be purchased for a second tranche consideration of an amount depending on the EBITDA development of Nanobit for the financial years 2021 and 2022 but however not exceeding $48 million
    • The Second Tranche Consideration will be payable by Stillfront in 2023, out of which 70% shall be paid in cash and 30% in newly issued shares in Stillfront

Keywords acquires Heavy Iron Studios (link)

  • Keywords bought the LA-based developer Iron Studios for $13.3 million
  • Founded back in 1999 and bought from THQ in 2009 by its current CEO Lyle Hall, the studio has worked on titles including the recently-launched Marvel’s Avengers from Square Enix, Activision’s Call of Duty and Disney Infinity

Gameloft acquires episode mobile storytelling games maker The Other Guys (link)

  • Acquiring The Other Guys gives the studio a developer with expertise on a specific kind of casual gaming — one that focuses on episodic stories with big decision-making moments for players

Embracer Group picks up VR firm Vertigo Games (link)

  • The company has bought the VR firm for €50m ($59.3m), €40m ($47.5m) of which is being paid out in cash, with the remaining €10m ($11.9m) taking the form of newly-issued shares in Embracer

Bunch raises $20 million to help friends party up in mobile games (link)

  • Venture capital firm General Catalyst led the round, with participation from top game developers — including Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive Software, Krafton, Ubisoft, Mixi, Miniclip, Colopl, Riot Games, Ubisoft, and Supercell

Metacore raises $17.6 million from Supercell and launches Merge Mansion mobile game (link)

  • Finnish mobile game company Metacore, formerly known as Everywear Games, has raised $17.7 million in funding from mobile gaming giant Supercell. It has also launched Merge Mansion on iOS and Android
  • The Helsinki company has additionally secured an $11.8 million line of credit

Bayes raises $6 million for global esports data platform (link)

  • Bayes has raised $6 million to provide data on the esports industry. The money came from Pohlad Family investment group, Fertitta Capital, and the Sony Innovation Fund

Others

Harry Potter game Hogwarts Legacy debuts on PS5 in 2021 (link)

  • Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment revealed the game during the PlayStation 5 Showcase. The title takes you through the usual learning of wizardry skills at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from J.K. Rowling’s popular Harry Potter novels. While the series has ended, this game looks like it goes beyond the tales to a time before the books

Ubisoft announces Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed for Oculus VR (link)

  • Elizabeth Loverso, the vice president of product development at Ubisoft’s Red Storm Entertainment, joined Facebook Connect event to reveal that the publisher is bringing two major franchises to VR: Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed. They will be exclusive to Oculus platforms

Gaming Public Multiples

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