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GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 49

Highlights

PLAYSTUDIOS Secures Exclusive Rights To Tetris® Franchise For Mobile Devices (link)
N3TWORK is a portfolio company of Griffin Gaming Partners

  • Through a strategic partnership with The Tetris Company and N3TWORK, PLAYSTUDIOS has assumed the exclusive global, multi-title mobile rights (excluding China) for the Tetris game
  • PLAYSTUDIOS will continue to operate and advance the current Tetris mobile products while reimagining and eventually launching a new and improved version of the game that incorporates the company’s playAWARDS loyalty platform
  • The current Tetris mobile app, which was introduced in early 2020 by N3TWORK, has generated approximately 30M downloads to date and has retained millions of active players who will now become part of the PLAYSTUDIOS’ audience network

Consumers downloaded 14.3B games in Q3 2021, including 3.6B hyper-casual games, according to App Annie (link)

  • Mobile games are on track to surpass $120B in spending in 2021, growing 20% YoY, according to App Annie’s analysis of the first nine months of the year
  • App Annie has not seen a big indication of a large negative impact coming from IDFA
  • Hypercasual, led by action, puzzle, and simulation genres, were responsible for around 33% of game downloads in Q3 2021, reaching 3.6B downloads, nearly twice compared to the same period two years prior

Government suspends Tencent from updating or launching apps in China (link)

  • Tencent currently publishes more than 100 mobile games in China as well as over 70 broader apps
  • The temporary measure applies to over 100 games, but Tencent assures that titles remain functional and available for download
  • The government suspension comes after a campaign run by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in an effort to ensure apps follow data privacy and cybersecurity laws

Sub-Saharan African gamers have grown from 77M to 186M in six years, according to Newzoo (link)

  • Among the 186M players, 177M (95%) are reported to play on mobile devices
  • South Africa leads the region with an estimated $290M in consumer spending for 2021
  • Among the five countries in the region, South Africa leads the portion of the population who play games at 40%. Meanwhile, 27% of people in Ghana play games, 23% for Nigeria, 22% for Kenya, and 13% for Ethiopia

PUBG Mobile surpasses $7B in lifetime revenue, currently generating $8M in revenue a day (link)

  • PUBG Mobile has seen a record quarterly revenue of $771M in Q3 2021
  • PUBG, combined with the Chinese version of the title, Game for Peace, has accumulated $2.6B in revenue, making it the second-highest-earning mobile game in 2021
  • The second-largest market for PUBG Mobile is the US, with approximately 12% of total consumer spending, with Japan coming in third place with 4% of total spending

M&A and Capital Raises

Niantic raises $300M at $9B valuation (link)

  • Niantic operates Pokemon GO, Pikmin Bloom, and Ingress Prime
  • The Company will use the proceeds to develop AR technology that overlays a virtual world on top of the real world as it aims to build the real-world metaverse
  • Niantic believes the metaverse can be built with AR images overlaid on the real world instead of a fully virtual experience and has recently unveiled its Lightship AR Developer Kit (ARDK), which makes it easy to make AR games publicly available for free to anyone to develop games for
  • The round was led by Coatue Management

Moon Active lands $300M in funding at $5B valuation (link)

  • Moon Active operates Coin Masters, MyCafé, and Family Island
  • Calcalist reports that Moon Active posted $1.25B in revenues last year and expects to hit $1.5B this year
  • The Company will use the proceeds to continue developing new games while also targeting growth via M&A
  • The round was led by Insight Partners with additional participation from Andalusian Private Capital

The Forgotten City publisher Plug In Digital raises $75M for indie games (link)

  • Plug In Digital is now a full-service games distributor and publisher. The Company’s two publishing labels, Dear Villagers and PID Games have published a variety of games, including The Forgotten City
  • Plug In Digital has seen 50% annual revenue growth over the past five years
  • The Company will use the proceeds to invest in more development, expand its footprint with multi-platform IP publishing deals, and make strategic investments
  • Private equity firm Bridgepoint Group led the round

Enthusiast Gaming acquires League of Legends fan community U.GG for $45M (link)

  • U.GG has grown into one of the largest global services for the world’s most popular esport, League of Legends, which had more than 180M players in October
  • U.GG is expected to generate revenue of approximately $8M and net operating income of approximately $3M in 2022, representing an EV / 2022E Revenue of 5.6x
  • The consideration was comprised of $7.5M in cash, the issuance of 5.2M common shares, deferred payments of $8.5M, and a contingent earn-out based on financial performance up to $12M

TinyBuild acquires Versus Evil and Red Cerberus in $31M deal (link)

  • The acquisition has an upfront consideration of $12.5M with a potential earn-out consideration of $18.8M over the next three years, bringing the maximum total consideration to $31.3M
  • The acquisition will add more than 250 staff and 32 titles to TinyBuild. Red Cerberus is Versus Evil’s in-house testing and QA studio
  • Versus Evil will continue to operate as a separate publishing label specializing in RPGs and turn-based strategy games

Epic Games acquires Rock Band maker Harmonix (link)

  • Harmonix aims to develop music-oriented interactive entertainment using technology. The Company has developed the Rock Band franchise, Dance Central, and other music-based games
  • The Harmonix team will collaborate closely with Epic to develop musical journeys and gameplay for Fortnite while continuing to support existing titles including Rock Band 4

Gamevil acquires Zenaad to build out NFT business (link)

  • The acquisition will see Zenaad’s blockchain expertise and its digital advertising service integrated into Gamevil’s mobile games social platform Hive
  • Gamevil plans to build an NFT exchange and develop blockchain-based play-to-earn games, according to Pulse
  • The Company plans to open the NFT exchange in March 2022 and to release a range of new blockchain-based games starting in 2022

Nordisk acquires Flashbulb Games (link)

  • Flashbulb is known for vehicle-building sandbox title Trailmakers and multiplayer brawler Rubber Bandits, which is launching this week
  • Nordisk previously owned a 43% stake in the studio, after investing DKK 16.5M ($2.5M) in 2017
  • The acquisition announcement mentioned the transaction could add up to several hundred million DKK depending on earn-out considerations

Other

French gaming company Gameloft partners with WinZO (link)
WinZO is a portfolio company of Griffin Gaming Partners

  • French multinational gaming company Gameloft has entered into a partnership deal with social gaming platform WinZO to enable Gameloft to tap into a large potential market in India
  • India accounts for 12%, or more than 150M, of Gameloft’s downloads, but it accounts for less than 1% of the company’s worldwide income

Fold partners with Niantic to create AR-based Bitcoin rewards app (link)

  • Fold, a reward and payments app, partnered with Niantic to create the Fold AR beta app, allowing users to discover and collect Bitcoin and other prizes around them, enabled by Niantic’s real-world mapping technology
  • Both companies see the partnership as another step into building a real world-based metaverse

Melon and NFL team up and launch Roblox metaverse experience (link)

  • Melon is a Roblox-focused developer, having recently revealed its first game, called Jump Kingdoms
  • Players were able to purchase their own team jerseys and helmets starting November 23rd. Helmets and jerseys for the NFC teams launch on December 1st
  • The Company also anticipated that it has a much larger NFL project in the works set to debut in early 2022

Netflix hires Amir Rahimi as VP of game studios (link)

  • Rahimi, who was previously president of games at mobile game publisher Scopely, will report to Mike Verdu, vice president of games at Netflix. Rahimi will oversee all games that will become available to Netflix members around the world

Amazon Studios is nearing a deal to develop a series based on Mass Effect (link)

  • Following the success of its Wheel of Time adaptation, Amazon Prime Video is considering a series based on the Mass Effect universe
  • Mass Effect began as an alternate universe science fiction series created by BioWare

PUBG: New State brings in $2.6M in first week (link)

  • PUBG: New State was downloaded more than 23M times, with India accounting for 7M of those, according to Sensor Tower
  • The top three countries for spending were the US, Japan, and Turkey, sequentially

A List Games reboots as a live service game publisher with two games coming (link)

  • A List Games is getting a reboot as a new game publisher for live-service games within the Ayzenberg Group
  • A List is preparing its first two multiplayer games, tentatively scheduled to launch on PC for Steam in 2022. Hell is Others, made by Strelka, and Kingshunt, made by Vaki Games

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