Keywords acquires Blindlight for up to $10M

keywordsKeywords Studios, the international technical services provider to the global video games industry, has acquired Blindlight LLC for a consideration of up to $10m, from the founder, Lev Chapelsky.

Blindlight achieved EBITDA of an average of $1m per annum over the three-year period to 31 December 2017. Under the terms of the acquisition Keywords is paying an initial $3.64m in cash and will issue 64,521 new ordinary shares in Keywords to the seller on the first anniversary of the acquisition which will then be subject to orderly market provisions for a further 12 months. Deferred consideration of up to $4.8m will be payable to the seller in cash depending on the performance of the business in the 12-month periods to the first and second anniversaries of the acquisition.

Founded in 2001 and based in Hollywood, California, Blindlight enjoys a leading position in the provision of Hollywood production services for the video games industry. The company works on behalf of game publishers and developers in procuring specialised talent and managing the entire production processes for the parts of games that benefit from Hollywood production resources. Blindlight’s service disciplines include voiceover production, celebrity acquisition and rights management, game writing, music, sound design and motion capture.

Andrew Day, CEO of Keywords Studios, said, “Keywords and Blindlight have got to know each other well over the past three years and we see good opportunities to leverage both businesses to offer a wider range of world leading services to our clients. We are delighted to welcome Lev and the rest of the team to the Keywords family. Following our recent acquisition of music services companies, Cord Worldwide and Laced, we see excellent opportunities for Blindlight to bring these services to Los Angeles, as well as providing access to further opportunities for our downstream production services of translation and localised voice over.”

Ireland, Dublin & USA, West Hollywood, CA

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Supercell Invests $5M in Redemption Games

Supercell FinlandFinland-based game company Supercell has made its first American investment with a $5 million minority stake in Redemption Games, an innovative game development studio in Carlsbad, California. Supercell is known for hit mobile gaming titles “Hay Day,” “Clash of Clans,” “Boom Beach,” and “Clash Royale.”

The investment is for a minority stake in Redemption Games, which will continue as an independent studio with full control of its operations, and is not part of a publishing relationship, but rather to support the development of new intellectual property and to bring it to market. Witz and Dan Lin, co-founders of Redemption, worked together for 20 years, collaborating for 10 of those in mobile gaming. They sold their prior company, Mob Science, to Jam City (previously SGN) in Los Angeles where they led the design and development of the top grossing game “Cookie Jam”.

Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen, said, “In our investments, we are always looking for the best teams with great culture. Redemption Games has an amazing team of experienced developers, who have a solid track record and true passion for making great puzzle games. We’ve been impressed by their craftsmanship and distinctive approach to game development. This is our first investment outside of Europe and we couldn’t be more excited to partner up with the Redemption Games team.”

Finland, Helsinki & USA, Carlsbad, CA

Keywords Studios acquires Fire Without Smoke

keywordsKeywords Studios, the technical services provider to the video games industry, has acquired Fire Without Smoke Ltd for up to £5.2m. 

Headquartered in London and with a studio in Montreal, Fire Without Smoke provides a suite of creative and marketing services to game publishers and developers, creating assets such as game trailers, marketing art and materials for esports events, and providing marketing consultancy and general design services to the video game industry. 

Founded in 2013, Fire Without Smoke works with major game publishers such as Sony, Square Enix, Riot Games, Deep Silver, Sega, Capcom and Ubisoft. The company has around 40 staff  working in London and Montréal

Keywords Studios is acquiring the business from the founders Will O’Connor, Michael David Thomson plus other shareholders. Will O’Connor will continue as Managing Director. David Thomson and the the rest of the team, will also remain with the business. 

For the year ending 31 May 2018, Fire Without Smoke is expected to have revenues of £2.8 million and adjusted profits before tax of £0.7 million.  Keywords Studios is paying £3.85 million in cash, £0.5m of which is deferred until the first anniversary of the acquisition and subject to performance targets, and the issue of 77,006 new ordinary shares in Keywords Studios, which will be issued to the Sellers on the first anniversary of the acquisition and will then be subject to orderly market provisions for a further 12 months.

Andrew Day, CEO of Keywords Studios commented: “Fire Without Smoke’s specialised offering represents an excellent addition to the Group’s existing capabilities and adds some exciting new services to our global service platform. Their high end video game trailers expertise will be of great interest to Keywords’ large client base, as will their broad suite of creative services, which range from marketing strategy to providing marketing content for events including esports tournaments, which can play a significant role in influencing the success of event and game launches.

Ireland, Dublin & UK, London & Canada, Montréal

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EA acquires Gamefly’s cloud gaming technology & talent

Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts Inc. has acquired the cloud gaming technology assets and personnel of a wholly owned subsidiary of video game rental company GameFly, Inc. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Los Angeles-headquartered GameFly acquired Israel-based cloud gaming company Playcast Media Systems in 2015. The team will join EA’s functional teams, including the central technology organisation that is responsible for developing and operating the cutting-edge platform that powers EA’s leading games and services.

Cloud gaming opens up new possibilities to expand the reach of games by streaming high-quality entertainment to more players, on more devices, in more geographic regions of the world. With this acquisition, EA is adding to its strategic focus on advanced technologies that will give players more freedom to access the games they want, and enable the delivery of next-generation experiences at scale.

Ken Moss, Chief Technology Officer of Electronic Arts, said, “Cloud gaming is an exciting frontier that will help us to give even more players the ability to experience games on any device from anywhere. We’re thrilled to bring this talented team’s expertise into EA as we continue to innovate and expand the future of games and play.”

USA, Redwood City, CA & Israel, Caesarea

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Bigben Interactive acquires French games developer Cyanide for €20M

Bigben interactive logoBigben Interactive has acquired Cyanide, a French studio developing video games for €20 million, obtaining 100% of the company’s shares and voting rights. In the wake of Bigben’s increased stake in the capital of the Kylotonn Racing studio, this transaction will allow the Group, until now a publisher and distributor of video games, to fully integrate the development phase of games.

The transaction is to be paid for half in cash and for half through the issue of Bigben new shares in order to remunerate the transfer of Cyanide shares (dilution ranging from 3.5% to 4.0% of Bigben’s current share capital).

In order to avoid any further dilution, Bigben also purchased all potential capital instruments on the day of the transaction for an additional € 1.1 million in cash.

An earn-out capped and based on the net profit of Cyanide (and its subsidiaries) for FY 2018-19 (as at 31 March 2019) may be paid in September 2019. The closing of the transaction is scheduled to take place in June 2018.

Created in 2000 by 7 seasoned developers of the video game industry, Cyanide is one of the French reference studios recognized for the development of creative video games in numerous genres (strategy, narrative, shooting, management, sport, action and adventure) as well as for the quality of its productions.

Based in France (Paris and Bordeaux) and in Canada with 110 employees on its payroll, the studio expects €6.1 million sales and a €1.9 million net profit for financial year 2017/2018 (closing on 31 March 2018, pending audit results).

Alain Falc, chairman and CEO of Bigben, said, “This acquisition is a capital milestone in Bigben’s strategy as it greatly enhances our ability to create new games that meet our ambitions in the AA segment. Bigben is also proud to welcome to its Group the talents of Cyanide, one of the most creative French studios in the sector and we will be supporting their upswing towards new, even more ambitious projects.”

France, Lesquin & Nanterre

Gfinity plc acquires RealSM Limited, owner of RealSport

GFinityGfinity plc, a leading international esports entertainment group, has acquired the entire issued share capital of RealSM Limited, owner of the fan-oriented digital sports media platform, RealSport, for a total consideration for approximately £2.4 million, to be settled wholly in new shares in Gfinity. The acquisition will be paid for by issuing 12.3 million Gfinity shares at 19.317 pence each. The share price was the average closing price over the last 15 days prior to the deal being announced.

Founded in January 2016, RealSport’s platform features original content, including news documentaries, podcasts, analysis and opinions. The company has rapidly built an online user base of more than half a million active monthly users with esports currently accounting for over 40% of all traffic on its website. Gfinity will use the RealSport platform alongside its own to build the esports community.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Gfinity will integrate RealSport’s online real estate into its business operations. Gfinity will also acquire the services of the team of seven key employees including the co-founders, Roei Samuel and Scott Hurst, together with their network of contributors, who have driven the rapid growth in the RealSport digital platform.

Gfinity Chief Executive Officer Neville Upton said, ”RealSport has done a great job of building a “go-to” hub for the esports community. They have a very talented team whose expertise in building a digital community will be very valuable to Gfinity. This deal will further help Gfinity continue to drive awareness and engagement in Gfinity and Elite Series brands. We believe this will accelerate Gfinity’s plans to monetise our digital assets and will greatly increase the value of our proposition to our prospective commercial partners.”

UK, London

Bethesda acquires BattleCry Studios

BethesdaBethesda Softworks has acquired fellow ZeniMax Media subsidiary BattleCry Studios, now branded Bethesda Game Studios Austin. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

This growth will mark the second studio expansion since the founding of Bethesda’s in-house game studio in 2001 and the newest addition since Bethesda Game Studios Montreal in late 2015. The Texas-based studio will be led by Studio Director Doug Mellencamp. BattleCry Studios, which was formed in 2012 as a subsidiary of Zenimax Media, is responsible for the shelved free-to-play title of the same name, described as a “multiplayer online action combat game” by former executive producer and president Rich Vogel. The project was suspended in October 2015 in favour of other endeavours, and the studio went on to aid Id Software with post-release content for the multiplayer mode of DOOM.

Mellencamp said, “We’re excited to join Bethesda Game Studios and look forward to working together on some of the industry’s most exciting new games. Austin’s incredible game development scene and talent will also allow us to push our games further than fans have imagined.”

USA, Rockville, MD & Austin, TX

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