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pocketgamer文章:10个应该发生的手游公司收购案

发布时间:2017-04-25 14:23:30 Tags:,

本文原作者:Jon Jordan(特约编辑)

考虑到在过去12个月里发生的86亿美元的腾讯—Supercell并购案和59亿美元的Activision Blizzard-King的并购案,这无疑让2016年成为了创下手游并购案历史新高的一年。

2017年也许无法企及到数十亿的高度,不过我们已经可以看到一些特别有趣的收购交易:

Netmarble以传言7到8亿美元的价格对Kabam部分公司的进行了收购。

Take-Two以2.5亿美元的价格收购了Social Point

Zynga以4250万美元的价格对Harpan进行了秘密收购

所以,在快速成熟的西方市场和某些快速扩张的亚洲公司对国际领域的探索这样的大背景下,谁会是下一个被收购的对象?

dici-capital-game-deals(from pocketgamer.biz)

dici-capital-game-deals(from pocketgamer.biz)

公司配对

我们也许没有可以预言的水晶球,不过我们试图将10家潜在买方公司和10家潜在可并购公司以合理的价位进行配对。
这里并不表示我们说这些收购案会成为可能,这些只不过是从某些方面说得通的并购案,它们可以让我们更深度地了解手游公司合并趋势。

注意:该清单按照所估算交易规模从小到大排列。

#1:Supercell收购Seriously

交易规模估算:1亿美元

优点:Supercell将收获一个好团队和强大IP,并且它有足够的资源来谋求成功。

缺点:《Best Fiends》会是Supercell玩家的菜吗?

Supercell在芬兰开发者团队小伙伴Frogmind那里已经投资了51%的股份,我们知道Supercell仍将继续寻找收购机会。

这家芬兰/美国共同经营的Seriously是很明显的下一个目标。

附近的邻居

由前Rovio、Fox和Supercell员工组成的seriously工作室有很强大的公司文化,特别擅长市场营销方面的创新,他们已经将自己的休闲游戏《Best Fiends》打入了最热门游戏排行榜中,尤其受到美国玩家欢迎。

大概每年4000万美元的销量估计收购价应为1亿美元,鉴于其销量增长速度和2800万的风险投资资金,实际总价可能还会推得更高。

Supercell当然有这个资金实力,但将想办法利用一切资源(包括腾讯的资源)构架出能让《Best Fiends》成为真正风靡全球的游戏品牌的策略,

#2 亚马逊收购Super Evil Megacorp公司

交易规模估算:1.5亿美元

优点:AMAZON将收获手游竞技界领军开发团队

缺点:在没有保证的领域高额开支

目前有太多对电子竞技市场的规模、赚钱效益和有关手游是否会成为重要的游戏角色的不切实际幻想。

亚马逊已经对该游戏进行了大量的宣传,当然这多亏它早在2014年就花了9.7亿美元收购了Twitch。

另外亚马逊还投资支持新游戏开发引擎Lumberyard,将市场营销的预算投在了现有的电子竞技比赛中——其中包括《虚荣(Vainglory)》——以及对自己的休闲手游推广活动“the Champion of Fire Invitational”中。

关于这点,亚马逊将手伸向美国开发公司Super Evil Megacorp就说得通了。

思想的交汇

亚马逊的MOBA游戏《Vainglory》是电竞生态中拥有最高关注度的游戏。

除了本身的名气以外,亚马逊有多年运营全球实体活动的经验和在一款活跃游戏中协调活动的经验。

也许这个假设的交易最大的问题在于如何找到合适的价位。

Super Evil Megacorp募集了4100万美元资,但由于这个行业的本质和不确定性,其投资者会对获得大量报酬抱有期待。那么相似地,亚马逊也要谨防为一家存在感强但不公开财务收入导致外界很难从其盈利状态衡量其成功的公司投资过度。

时间也会是一个问题。讽刺的是,如果电竞手游在2017年明显获得更多重视,那么高额售价对双方来说都行得通。如果相反,那么这个领域将很快衰退。

#3 Take-Two收购Plarium

交易规模估算:2亿美元

优点:能够收获有丰富经验的核心工作室

缺点:其近来没有什么成功的游戏作品

尽管它在2017年初以2.5亿美元的价格收购了主打休闲游戏的Social Point公司,然而相比之下Take-Two的游戏和Plarium以色列游戏公司配套的核心游戏契合度更高。

它最初的成功来源于Facebook和俄罗斯社交网络上的游戏《VK and OK》,但是类似4X游戏《Stormfall: Rise of Balur》和《Vikings: War of Clans》则在IOS和安卓系统上有很好的销量表现。

实际上,由于Plarium很多游戏开发工作室都在俄罗斯和乌克兰,因此它在东欧影响力尤其大。

然而,Plarium最近发行的类似《Soldiers Inc.》和《Gate of War》这样的游戏发行的结果让人并不满意。

其他有待解决的问题

加上Plarium结合Social Point的稳定性为Take-Two起到很强的互补作用,可以从《Red Dead》和《Borderlands》的F2P手游版本中得到有清晰潜在的相关许可,尽管GTA 4X手游是否能够通过Rockstar的检查还不清楚。

考虑到缺少Plarium公司的数据,要给这样的交易定价比较困难。其游戏表现不错,但是它没有过像MZ那样全球范围的成功,而它偶尔发行的休闲游戏——配备了《里约大冒险》电影场景的《Rio:Match-3Party》——则体现了一些企业文化混淆。

相似地,手游市场竞争性只会越来越大、这将继续压榨该行业的持续盈利能力。

不过,Take-Two是有足够流动资金的,因此其盈利能力付款计划的表现仍有上升的空间。

4# Zynga收购Scopely

交易规模估算:2.5亿美金

优点:彼此互补,相互良好匹配——尤其体现在休闲多人在线游戏上

缺点:很难达成一致的估价

在过去的几年里,Zynga之一都在并购市场中保持安静但活跃的状态——为收购Rising Tide、Zindagi、Puzzle Social以及最近期的Solitaire specialist Harpan投资了一个亿多美元。

关于这个方面,收购US开发公司Scopely这样大的单子似乎并不符合Zynga的个性,而这跟2014年它对NaturalMotion的收购案有些相似。

《Friends》与《Buddies》

现在Zynga仍旧有8.5亿美元的流动资金,并且坚定不移地在扩大销售额,对 Scopely的收购使得Zynaga能够接触到Scopely的品牌游戏《With Buddies》,它跟Zynga的《With Firends》很相似,可以产生共鸣。

除此之外,甚至从类似《行尸走肉:道路》的核心类型游戏到《Survivaland WWE Champions: Puzzle RPG》这样的RPG游戏都将融入到Zynga的策略类游戏当中。

然而,价位绝对是这里最难搞定的。

Scopely在风投基金募集了1亿美元——其中5500万是2016年募集的——因此其估价应该远高于这个数字。

多亏了Zynga股票的增发,看来2017年有机会得到的更高估价将会给Zynga带来第一个转机。

5# Jam City收购Glu Mobile

交易规模估算: 3.5亿美元

优势:用低成本获取利润、还能得到一些表现稳定出色的休闲游戏作品

劣势:对潜在IPO造成混乱(首次公开招股),而且这个投资并没有什么把握

Jam City(前身为SGN GAMES)最近因为以一笔未知数额的资金收购了美国游戏开发公司TinyCo而上了头条。这笔交易为Jam City旗下增加了像《Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff》和《Marvel Avengers Academy》这样休闲对战游戏。

因此对于Jam City即将面对的潜在IPO(首次公开招股),收购一个像Glu Mobile这样的文体公司似乎有点奇怪,不过还是有逻辑可言的。

成长拓展

最明显的一点就是规模的增长。考虑到Glu做为独立公司长期在纳斯达克交易所的损失,获得它年收入的两亿美元已经是相当便宜了。

3亿美元的市场价值加上20%的溢价,Glu的价值会在3.6亿美元

Glu旗下有很多的游戏——《Covet Fashion》、《Design Home》、《Cooking Dash》——这些游戏都很合Jam City用户的口味。

尽管Jam City似乎不太可能会对Glu的名人游戏比如《Kim Kardashian:Hollywood》加入什么新元素,并且像《Deer Hunter》和《Racing Rivals》的游戏也不太符合Jam City的风格。

不过也许这场交易中最棘手的部分在于资金问题。

Jam City可能不得不通过债务或者或者成员工程师换股来筹集资金,而这样会让IPO复杂化。

另外还有个难点——腾讯也是Glu的一大股东。不过也许它会看在Jam city股市的未来期许而投入资金吧?

6# EA收购ROVIO

交易规模估算: 4亿美元

优势:将会增加EA的30%手游销量,还能为非移动端游戏提供潜力

劣势:从Rovio的盈利情况来看会非常昂贵

由于过度扩展《愤怒的小鸟》,有了几年不尽人意的授权和营销活动经历,Rovio重新走回手游开发者的正轨上。

2016年Rovio的年销售额大约在2亿美元左右,利润不到10%——这家芬兰开发者工作室现在成为了一个售价大概在4亿美元的可收购对象。

下一步是什么?

当然了,Rovio现在正在努力拓展自己的领域,让自己不在是《愤怒的小鸟》之家,但是想在这个拥挤的市场里出线是越来越来难了,因此这正是ROVIO该找一个重要的合作伙伴的时候,尤其是那种能让《愤怒的小鸟》走出手游,走向其他端游,获得全球范围成功的伙伴。

这里很明显的人选就是EA了。

2011年EA以7.32亿美元对PopCap(当时说的是7.5亿美元)进行的收购定价是过高的。

不过作为拥有高额股价和24亿流动资金的EA公司,不论是从推动EA已经在上升的移动端游产业还是为扩大其成长潜力的角度来看——收购Rovio都是在情理之中的。

7# Netmarble 收购 Gamevil和Com2uS

交易规模估算: 25亿美元

优势:Netmarble将在国际销售中收获颇丰,《Summoners War》带来的收益尤为明显

劣势:股东协议是个棘手的问题

在腾讯(22%股权)和韩国娱乐公司巨头CJ E&M公司(28%股权)支持下,手游公司Netmarble将在2017年在韩国进行股票上市,其融资达24亿美元。

这让Netmarble身价达到120亿美元,相当于GTA的开发者Take-Two身价的两倍。

Netmarble显然正在市场寻找更多的收购对象。它经以10亿丰厚的价格收购了Kabam Vancouver工作室(旗下游戏包括《Marvel: Contest of Champions》),那么下一步呢?

要是Netmarble和韩国市场第二大手游公司Com2uS(韩国证券交易市场市值15亿美元)合并那会很有趣。

本地合作

收购Com2uS将为Netmarble带来《Summoners War》这款游戏,它自发行以来已经了售出了10亿美元。

重要的是,RPG是一种全球风靡的游戏类型,其收入均匀来自北美、欧洲和亚太地区。这对于长期偏向韩国市场(除了对Kabam的收购是针对海外市场)的Netmarble来说是非常有价值的,

然而,收购Com2uS并不是只要向股东支付溢价这么简单。因为Com2uS是由同为韩国移动发行商Gamevil控制的,它同样也是一家上市公司,市值达4亿美元。跟Com2uS一样,Gamevil有着包括对北美在内的不错全球销售成绩。

这样一个收购真的能成吗?

从资金的角度来说是OK的。联合Com2uS和Gamevil的股票价格溢价的40%,总交易金额达 25亿美元。如果Netmarble意向强烈,它可以通过现款、债务和股份等集齐这些资金。

无论如何,股东协议——尤其是Gamevil经营下的股东协议对于创造一个价值150亿美元的移动手游巨头至关重要。

8# NetEase 收购 Zynga

交易规模估算: 30亿美元

优势:获取以西方市场为主的游戏业务

劣势:Mark Pincus的控制意味着Zynga不会被恶意并购

中国游戏公司网易在2016年收入破纪录后,正致力于将其国产游戏向国际化拓展。

跟对手腾讯不一样的是,网易在M&A企业并购线上并不如腾讯活跃,不过如果它去收购美国社交游戏公司Zynga的话,这会成为游戏公司并购中的头号新闻。

由于Zynga的股票单价不到3美元,其公司价值大概在24亿美元,就算加上20%的溢价,网易也有能力从其53亿的现金储蓄中拿出30亿来收购Zynga。

遛狗

用这个价格网易可以得到一个强大且收入高的社交赌场业务和一个广告赞助的休闲游戏。除了《Words With Friends》,Zynga最近还发行了《Boogle With Friends》、《Crosswords With Friends》(试发行)并且在一些纸牌游戏上投入了4250万美元。

Zynga旗下游戏更多是核心向游戏,比如《Empires & Allies》、和《CSR Racing 2》,这些游戏将助力网易游戏规模建设,或许甚至像《Dawn of Titans》这样的游戏都可以根据中国玩家的口味习惯进行修订和本地化。

更重要的是,Zynga在北美和欧洲的表现会为网易所期待的国际化立足点带去契机,而7.5亿的年销售额,其中包括2亿的广告收入(网易同样也有强大的广告部门),将粘连带来超过25%的手游销量。

然而,以上所说的可能性再大,要收购Zynga都还有一个很大的障碍:Mark Pincus持有Zynga70%有投票权的股份。除非他同意这场收购交易,否则以上说的都是白搭。

9# 任天堂收购DeNA

交易规模估算: 40亿美元

优势:DeNA将为任天堂提供整体业务重组的机会

劣势:像任天堂这样传统的公司会在意这样的机会吗?

任天堂在手游方面的策略带来的问题问题比解决的问题要多,不过,无论Switch表现的再好,这都不意味着它不会(不应该)将手游作为自己未来发展业务中的关键部分。

让日本手游发行商DeNA成为自己正是的战略合作伙伴会是最有效的解决方案。在当下的交易中,DeNA是负责F2P游戏的设计以及像《超级玛丽跑酷》和《火焰之章:英雄》这样游戏的实际运营的并从中获取收益抽成。

真正的“switch”

考虑到任天堂国际拓展面的不尽人意以及接下来打算进行的产业重组,DeNA对任天堂来说是一个相当实惠的收购对象。DeNA的市值仅仅30亿多美元,就算加上30%的溢价也就40亿美元。

相比之下,任天堂市值330亿美元,拥有大概60亿美元的现款,所以这是一笔容易达成的交易,并且DeNA的股东们也对这场交易喜闻乐见,如果任天堂采用股票收购的模式那这些股东就更高兴了。

该举措除了给任天堂带来F2P的游戏设计和运营自家游戏的代理外,还将为任天堂众所周知的传统数字零售方式带去翻天覆地的改变。

DeNA的所有游戏都采用数字化销售模式,而且还经历接触了健康管理、旅游、自动化以及银行业务等新领域业务。如果DeNA能得到任天堂在这些领域的资金输入与投资,这将给这些领域带去改革性的变化。

不过,任天堂目前正集中精力在其新型游戏平台swtich的发行上,这是任天堂所认为能舔平在Wii U那里受到失败创伤的唯一途径,目前为止其首次1000万的销售量仍在进行中。

10# X或者Y公司收购MZ

交易规模估算: 超过100亿美元

优势:MZ是一个成功的手游开发公司还是一个创新型信息处理平台?

劣势:MZ是一个成功的手游开发公司还是一个创新型信息处理平台?

MZ一直都以其手游《Mobile Strike》和《Game of War》在手游市场中强有力的竞争力著名,而这家美国开发商公司很快就有更多东西要呈现给我们。

为了强调新的云数据技术,MZ斥资100万美元在其Satori平台上举行了开发者之间的竞争比赛,开发者要角逐比出谁能做出最实用的实时反馈数据。

Satori是MZ基础设施中用来对游戏数据做分析的商业化版本平台。

双向街道

事出有因, MZ的估价是个棘手的问题。

作为纯游戏公司,每年由《Mobile Strike》和《Game of War》赚取的十亿多美元已经够让MZ成为和Supercell规模相当的公司了。在这样的背景下,很难有什么游戏公司有这种能力和大胃口来进行这样的收购。

然而,如果Satori平台的潜能被实现了,那么到时MZ的身价会有爆炸式增长,其同等规模大小的公司可能会有兴趣对它进行收购。

比如说,IBM、Oracle还有Cisco的身价都超过1500亿美元,而我们的老朋友腾讯公司则价值超过3000亿美元。总之,所有这些企业或者除他们以外更多的企业会对收购MZ有兴趣的。

11# 在游戏公司身价估算中要注意的一点

尽管一些在金融界中没什么见识的会计师可能告诉你估算一家公司价值的时候要有严格的参数界限——利润的五倍这样之类的界限——实际上,当你尤其认真回顾历史交易时,你会发现一旦一家公司对某项收购交易有了兴趣,它会愿意以任何标价来促成这笔交易。

造成这种弹性度的主要原因是收购企业对时机的重视。

现在最有价值的公司就是那些在飞速发展的市场里仍能够快速成长的公司。在两个向量同向的变化中,我们几乎无法估量这些公司的未来盈利能力。

此处有风险

从风险这个角度来看,那些会计师倒是说对了。对公司的基本价值估计是取决于其盈利能力的,因此把市盈率(P/E ratio)在数据采集中的作为基本比较数据是很普遍的估算方法。

然而,即使在这样的限制条件内,近期,从Activision Bliazzard以6倍利润价买下King到腾讯公司以9倍利润价买下Supercell、再到微软以20倍利润价买下Mojang公司这些交易中都见证了不可思议的游戏公司身价估算。

归根结底,一旦有了收购的兴趣,那么每场交易都有其自身的动态变化、都有各种我们试图想在名义价值上反应的内容,都有各种从现金、股权和假设盈余角度所形成的结构可能。

无论怎样,深度的财务分析或者根据业内专业知识进行的分析都并非公司估价的必要条件。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Given the $8.6 billion Tencent-Supercell and $5.9 billion Activision Blizzard-King deals which completed during the last 12 months, it’s little surprise 2016 was a record for mobile game-related mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

2017 may not reach that level in terms of billions of dollars, but it’s already seen some interesting deals, notably:

the closing of Netmarble’s rumoured $700 – $800 million acquisition of parts of Kabam,
Take-Two’s $250 million purchase of Social Point, and even
Zynga’s secretive $42.5 million takeover of Harpan.
So, in the context of a fast-maturing Western market and some fast-expanding Asian companies looking for international reach, who’s next?

Match-making

We may not have a crystal ball but we have attempted to match 10 companies who could be buyers with 10 companies who could be available… at the right price.
Not that we’re saying these deals could happen, merely that these are deals which make sense in some way and which also highlight deeper trends driving sector consolidation.

N.B. The list is organised in increasing estimated deal size.

1 Supercell buys Seriously

Estimated Deal Size: $100 million
Pros: Supercell gains great team and strong IP and has the resources to scale success
Cons: Would Best Fiends appeal to Supercell’s players?

Having already taken a 51% stake in fellow Finnish developer Frogmind, we know Supercell continues to look at acquisition opportunities.

Finnish/US operation Seriously is the obvious next step.

Near neighbours

Founded by ex-Rovio, Fox and Supercell staff, Seriously has built a strong company culture, especially innovating in terms of its marketing, and taken its casual Best Fiends games into the top grossing charts, especially in the US.

Sales of around $40 million annually suggest an acquisition price in the order of $100 million, although given its growth and $28 million in VC cash, the total could be pushed higher.

Supercell has the cash, of course, although it might look to structure any deal with a strong performance earn-out element as its – and Tencent’s – resources are brought to bear on making Best Fiends a truly global brand.

2 Amazon buys Super Evil Megacorp
Amazon buys Super Evil Megacorp logo
Estimated Deal Size: $150 million
Pros: Amazon gets a leading mobile eSport developer
Cons: High cost within an unproven sector

There’s plenty of smoke and mirrors concerning how big – and profitable – the eSports market is, how big – and profitable – it could be, and whether mobile games will have a significant role to play.

Amazon already has plenty of skin in this game, of course, thanks to its $970 million acquisition of Twitch back in 2014.

It’s also supporting streaming in its Lumberyard development engine, spending marketing dollars on existing eSports tournaments – including Vainglory – and even trialled own casual mobile game event, the Champions of Fire Invitational.

In this context, getting its hands on US developer Super Evil Megacorp would make sense.

Meeting of minds

Its MOBA game Vainglory has the greatest traction within the eSports ecosystem.

And more than the title itself, the company now has years of experience in running physical events globally and meshing such activity within a live game.

Perhaps the biggest issue in this proposed deal would be finding the right price.

Super Evil Megacorp has raised $41 million in funding, and given the nature and uncertainty of the sector, its investors would be looking for a big multiple payoff. Similarly, Amazon would be wary of overpaying for a company which, while it has presence, does not report its financials publicly, making it difficult to gauge from the outside the company’s success in terms of its revenues.

Timing could also be an issue. Ironically, if mobile eSports clearly gains more traction in 2017, a high price works for both sides. If not, the sector could quickly deflate
3 Take-Two buys Plarium
Take-Two buys Plarium logo
Estimated Deal Size: $200 million
Pros: Gains experienced core studio for licence exploitation
Cons: Its recent games haven’t been successful

Despite its $250 million acquisition of casual game-focused Social Point in early 2017, Take-Two’s games resonate more closely with Israeli core gaming outfit Plarium.

Its initial success came from games on Facebook as well as Russian social networks VK and OK, but 4X titles such as Stormfall: Rise of Balur and Vikings: War of Clans have demonstrated solid grossing performance on iOS and Android.

Indeed, with most of its development studios in Russia and Ukraine, Plarium has particularly strong traction in Eastern Europe.

However, more recent releases such as Soldiers Inc. and Gates of War haven’t been successful.

Another bow string

Adding Plarium to its stable alongside Social Point could be highly complementary for Take-Two. There would also be clear potential licence tie-ins with mobile F2P versions of Red Dead and Borderlands, although whether a GTA 4X mobile game would pass Rockstar muster remains unclear.

Given the lack of data about Plarium’s revenues, pricing such a deal is difficult. Its games have performed well, but it doesn’t have any global successes like MZ, while its occasional release of casual games – film licence Rio: Match 3 Party – suggests some corporate confusion.

Similarly, the mobile market is only getting more competitive, which will squeeze ongoing profitability.

Nevertheless, Take-Two has the cash and there would be plenty of upside for a generous performance earn-out.

4 Zynga buys Scopely
Zynga buys Scopely logo
Estimated Deal Size: $250 million
Pros: Good match of complementary products especially casual multiplayer
Cons: Valuation would be a tough negotiation

Over recent years, Zynga has been quiet but active in the M&A market, spending well over $100 million acquiring Rising Tide, Zindagi, Puzzle Social and, most recently, Solitaire specialist Harpan.

In that context, a much larger deal to buy US developer Scopely might seem out-of-character and more akin to 2014’s NaturalMotion deal.

Friends With Buddies

Yet, Zynga still has $850 million in cash and, as well as being solidly accretive to sales, a Scopely deal would give Zynga access to Scopely’s portfolio of With Buddies games that would chime with its With Friends games.

Even core games such as The Walking Dead: Road to Survival and WWE Champions: Puzzle RPG would fit into Zynga’s Action Strategy category.

Price would definitely be a sticking point, though.

Scopely has raised $100 million in VC funds – $55 million in 2016 – and so would likely hold out for a much higher valuation.

Still, with 2017 looking like it could offer the first signs of a Zynga turnaround, there’s the opportunity for a higher valuation, thanks to the addition of a chunk of Zynga’s stock.

5 Jam City buys Glu Mobile
Jam City buys Glu Mobile logo
Estimated Deal Size: $350 million
Pros: Cheap way to acquire revenue and some solidly performing casual games
Cons: Would confuse a possible IPO and funding such a deal is uncertain

The rebranded SGN, Jam City recently hit the headlines with the acquisition of US developer TinyCo for an undisclosed sum in 2016. That deal added the likes of Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff and Marvel Avengers Academy to Jam City’s portfolio of casual match games.

So as it gears up for a possible IPO, buying a troubled company like Glu Mobile may seem an odd move. Yet there is logic.

Bulking up

Additional scale is the most obvious. Given Glu’s long-term losses as a standalone company on the NASDAQ exchange (GLUU), gaining its $200 million of annual revenue would be relatively cheap.

With a market cap of around $300 million, a premium of 20% would value Glu at $360 million.

Glu also has plenty of games – Covet Fashion, Design Home, Cooking Dash – that would chime with Jam City’s casual audience.

Whether Jam City could do anything new with Glu’s celebrity games like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood seems unlikely, though, and games like Deer Hunter and Racing Rivals might be a mismatch.

Perhaps the most tricky part of such as deal, however, would be funding.

Jam City would have to raise the cash via debt or engineer some sort of share swap which would complicate its IPO.

Another sticking point is that Tencent is also a big Glu shareholder. Still, perhaps it could fund the deal on the promise of future Jam City shares – the ultimate jam tomorrow deal?

6 EA buys Rovio
EA buys Rovio logo
Estimated Deal Size: $400 million
Pros: Would boost EA Mobile sales by 30% as well as providing non-mobile potential
Cons: Expensive in terms of Rovio’s profitability

Following a couple of bad years dealing with the over-expansion of Angry Birds’ licensing and merchandising activities, Rovio is back on track as a successful mobile game developer.

Annual sales were around $200 million for 2016 and with a sub-10% profit margin, the Finnish developer is now in play as an acquisition priced around the $400 million mark.

What’s next?

Of course, it’s now trying to expand beyond being just the home of Angry Birds, but standing out in a crowded market is becoming harder, making this the right time to hook up with a big partner, especially one that would enable it to successfully take the Angry Birds universe outside mobile.

The obvious candidate is EA.

Its $732 million deal for PopCap in 2011 (quoted at the time as $750 million) was overpriced.

But with a strong share price and $2.4 billion in cash, buying Rovio would make sense, both in terms of boosting an already growing EA Mobile as well as adding to wider growth potential.

7 Netmarble buys Gamevil and Com2uS
Netmarble buys Gamevil and Com2uS logo
Estimated Deal Size: $2.5 billion
Pros: Netmarble would gain a lot of international sales, notably via Summoners War
Cons: Shareholder agreement would be tricky

Backed by Tencent (22%) and Korean entertainment giant CJ E&M (28%), mobile game outfit Netmarble is looking to raise up to $2.4 billion when it floats on the South Korean stock exchange later in 2017.

That would value the entire company at $12 billion or twice as large as GTA publisher Take-Two.

Netmarble is clearly in the market for more acquisitions too. It’s already spend the thick edge of $1 billion on Kabam’s Vancouver studio (including Marvel: Contest of Champions), so what’s next?

One interesting move would be consolidation at the top of the Korean mobile games market. Com2uS is the second largest such outfit. Floated on the KOSDAQ, its market value is around $1.5 billion.

Local tie-up

Buying Com2uS would gain Netmarble Summoners War, which has almost clocked up $1 billion in lifetime sales.

Significantly, the RPG is a global hit with revenue evenly generated from North America, Europe and APAC. That would be very valuable for Netmarble, which despite the Kabam deal, remains skewed towards the Korean market.

However, buying Com2uS isn’t as simple as paying a premium to shareholders.

Com2uS is controlled by fellow Korean mobile game publisher Gamevil. Also floated on the KOSDAQ, it’s currently worth around $400 million, and like Com2uS, has a decent global spread of sales, including North America.

Could such a deal happen?

In terms of funding, yes. A 40% premium to Com2uS and Gamevil’s share price would give a total deal value of $2.5 billion. Netmarble could raise that through cash, debt and shares if it so desired.

Shareholder agreement, notably of Gamevil’s management, would be crucial, however, to actually creating a $15 billion mobile gaming behemoth.

NetEase buys Zynga
NetEase buys Zynga logo
Estimated Deal Size: $3 billion
Pros: Gains Western-focused business
Cons: Mark Pincus’ control means it couldn’t be a hostile takeover

Following its record-breaking 2016, Chinese gaming outfit NetEase is looking to expand its highly successful domestic mobile games business internationally.

Unlike rival Tencent, it’s not yet been active on the M&A front but making a move on US outfit Zynga would certainly see it hitting the headlines.

With Zynga’s share price sub-$3, the company is worth around $2.4 billion and even taking into account a 20% premium, NetEase could fund $3 billion from its $5.3 billion cash reserves.

Walking the dog

For the price, NetEase would acquire a strong and highly profitable social casino business and a growing ad-funded casual games portfolio. As well as Words With Friends, Zynga’s just launched Boogle With Friends and Crosswords With Friends (soft launch) and spent $42.5 million on some Solitaire titles.

Games more in keeping the core titles that have built NetEase’s scale include Empires & Allies and CSR Racing 2, while perhaps even Dawn of Titans could be revamped and localised for Chinese tastes.

More significantly, Zynga’s presence in North America and Europe would give NetEase the international foothold it desires, while $750 million in annual sales, including $200 million from advertising (NetEase also has a strong advertising division), would be over 25% accretive to its mobile game sales.

However, as with all things Zynga there’s one big stumbling block: Mark Pincus’ 70% control of Zynga voting stock. Unless he agreed with the deal, it would be a no deal.

Nintendo buys DeNA
Estimated Deal Size: $4 billion
Pros: Would provide opportunities for Nintendo to shake up its entire business
Cons: Does a company as traditional as Nintendo care?

Nintendo’s mobile strategy poses more questions than answers, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t (shouldn’t) make a big move to ensure mobile games are a key part of its ongoing business, no matter how well (or badly) Switch does.

Formalising its strategic partnership with Japanese mobile publisher DeNA would be the most obvious solution. Under the current deal, DeNA handles the free-to-play game design and live operations of titles such as Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes and gets a revenue cut.

The real switch

Yet given its troubled international expansion and subsequent restructuring, DeNA would be a fairly cheap acquisition for Nintendo. With a current market value of just over $3 billion, even a 30% premium would value it at $4 billion.

In contrast, Nintendo has a market cap of $33 billion and around $6 billion in cash so a deal would be easy to engineer and welcomed by DeNA shareholders, especially if it included stock.

As well as bringing F2P game design and operations in-house, the move would also provide the opportunity to shake up Nintendo’s notoriously traditional approach to digital retailing.

All of DeNA’s game sales are digital, and it’s also experimenting in new business areas ranging from health to travel, automotive and banking. Getting Nintendo’s input and investment into these would be transformative.

However, with its focus set on its new console launch, the only way Nintendo is likely to think about such opportunities would be in the event Switch shapes up to be a failure of Wii U proportions, which until its first 10 million sales remains as possibility.

X or Y buys MZ
X or Y buys MZ logo
Estimated Deal Size: +$10 billion
Pros: Is MZ a successful mobile game developer or an innovative data processing outfit?
Cons: Is MZ a successful mobile game developer or an innovative data processing outfit?

Best known for the aggressive marketing for its mobile games Mobile Strike and Game of War, there soon might be much more to US developer MZ.

To highlight its new big data technology, it’s launched a $1 million competition for developers to make the best useful of real-time data feeds on its Satori platform.

Satori is the commercialised version of the infrastructure MZ uses for its games.

Two-way street

For that reason, valuing MZ is a tricky proposition.

As a pure gaming play, the billion plus dollars annually generated each by Mobile Strike and Game of War place MZ into a deal scale that’s already Supercell-sized. In that context, there are very few game companies with the ability or appetite to engineer such an acquisition.

However, if Satori’s potential looks like being fulfilled, MZ’s value explodes as does the size of companies that might be interested in acquiring it.

For example, IBM, Oracle and Cisco are all worth over $150 billion, while our old friend Tencent is worth closer to $300 billion. Any, all or more of them could be interested.

11 A note on valuations
While some beancounters in the financial community will tell you there are strict parameters for valuing a company – five times profits, etc – the truth is once a company decides it’s interested in a deal, it can agree to almost any price tag, especially when viewed retrospectively.

The main reason for this elasticity is timing.

The most valuable companies are those who are growing quickly in a market that’s also growing quickly. Both vectors make it almost impossible to calculate how profitable they will be in future.

Risky business

For, in this aspect, the beancounters are correct. Fundamental company valuation is based on profitability, hence the common use of share price to earnings (P/E ratio) as a basic comparative amongst share pickers.

Yet, even within such constraints, recent game deals have seen incredible spread from the six times profits Activision Blizzard paid for King, to the nine times Tencent paid for Supercell, to the 20 times Microsoft paid for Mojang.

The bottom line is, once the chase is on, every deal has its own dynamic, something we’ve attempted to reflect in the nominal valuations, and possible structure in terms of cash, equity and earn-out postulated in this article.

None should be treated as being the result of deep financial analysis or inside knowledge, however.(source:pocketgamer.biz


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