Pokémon GO creator Niantic acquires AR startup Escher Reality

NianticThe company behind Pokémon GO, Niantic, has acquired augmented reality startup Escher Reality. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Escher Reality builds backend services for cross-platform mobile AR so users can interact with each other and objects in the environment. The startup offered functionality for shared experiences that was absent in both Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit. The startup’s investors include Uncork Capital, Founders Fund, Y Combinator, Liquid 2 Ventures, Webb Investment Network, iRobot Ventures, Presence Capital, Into Ventures and others.

Niantic CEO John Hanke said, “The addition of the Escher AR technology is incredibly exciting to us at Niantic as it significantly accelerates our work on persistent, shared AR as part of the Niantic real-world application platform. It’s our intention to make our cross-platform AR technology available more widely to developers later this year.”

Niantic is releasing its next big AR title Harry Potter Wizards Unite this year.

USA, San Francisco & Sunnyvale, CA

Microsoft acquires live game operations startup PlayFab

Microsoft with nameMicrosoft has acquired PlayFab, a startup which helps game developers launch their titles online more quickly with simplified back-end services. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The Seattle-based startup had previously raised around $13 million in funding from investors.

PlayFab runs its services for 1,200 cloud-connected games with more than 700 million players, and now Microsoft will integrate PlayFab’s tools into its Azure cloud service.

Kareem Choudhry, corporate vice president of gaming at Microsoft, said, “PlayFab’s tools are designed to be used by game developers across all platforms (mobile, PC and console). This acquisition extends the investments and work we’ve done on Microsoft Azure to provide a world-class cloud platform for the gaming industry.”

USA, Redmond & Seattle, WA

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Scientific Games Completes Acquisition of NYX Gaming Group

Scientific GamesScientific Games Corporation has completed the previously announced acquisition of NYX Gaming Group Limited. In connection with the completion of the acquisition, the NYX ordinary shares are expected to be delisted from the TSX Venture Exchange on or before the close of business on January 10, 2018.

NYX is a growing B2B real-money digital gaming and sports betting with a staff of more than 1,000 employees globally, including more than 600 engineers and has more than 200 unique customers.

NYX’s worldwide channels, markets and customer base offer new growth opportunities to build on the momentum of Scientific Games’ existing interactive gaming business. The transaction will be accretive to earnings and cash flow this year.

Kevin Sheehan, Scientific Games Chief Executive Officer and President, said, “Today, Scientific Games moves forward as a leading digital provider of sports betting, iGaming and iLottery technologies, platforms, content, products and services.”

USA, Las Vegas, NV

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Scientific Games acquires 10.72% of NYX Gaming Group

Scientific GamesScientific Games Corporation has acquired ownership of 11,600,000 ordinary shares of NYX Gaming Group Limited, representing approximately 10.72% of the issued and outstanding ordinary shares of NYX. The acquired shares were purchased through the facilities of the TSX Venture Exchange at prices ranging from CAD$2.22 to CAD$2.35 per share, representing an aggregate purchase price of CAD$27,054,565. The transaction will be financed with cash on hand and debt. It represents a 112 percent premium to NYX’s closing stock price on September 19, 2017; and the transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings and cash flow in the first year and leverage neutral at closing.

NYX is a digital gaming provider with a staff of more than 1,000 employees globally, including more than 600 engineers and has more than 200 unique customers.

The award-winning NYX OGS™ (Open Gaming System), which allows licensees to leverage the best-of-breed, multi-vendor casino content from around the world, is acknowledged to be the industry’s market-leading gaming offering. From its own studios and a broad partner network of innovative third party suppliers, NYX offers customers the widest portfolio of content available, with access to more than 2,000 game titles, via OGS™.

Kevin Sheehan, Scientific Games’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “This important transaction creates a global gaming and lottery powerhouse. Scientific Games will be a stronger industry leader offering one of the broadest end-to-end portfolios of engaging content, innovative technologies and digital products and services across gaming and lottery”.

USA, Las Vegas, NV

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Penn National Gaming to Acquire Pinnacle Entertainment for $2.8BN

Penn National GamingPenn National Gaming has entered an agreement to acquire Pinnacle Entertainment for approximately $2.8 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Pinnacle shareholders will receive $20.00 in cash and 0.42 shares of Penn National common stock for each Pinnacle share, which implies a total purchase price of $32.47 per Pinnacle share. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is expected to close in the second half of 2018.

Pinnacle owns and operates 16 gaming and entertainment facilities in 11 jurisdictions across the United States. Following the acquisition of Pinnacle and the planned divestiture of four of its properties to Boyd Gaming Corporation, Penn National will have greater operational and geographic diversity and operate a combined 41 properties in 20 jurisdictions throughout North America. The transaction is expected to generate $100 million in annual run-rate cost synergies following integration and is anticipated to be immediately accretive to free cash flow in the first year.

Timothy J. Wilmott, Chief Executive Officer of Penn National Gaming, commented, “The combined company will benefit from enhanced scale, additional growth opportunities and best-in-class operations, creating a more efficient integrated gaming company. Going forward, we will have the financial and operational flexibility to further execute on our strategic objectives, while maintaining our track record of industry-leading profit margins and generating significant cash flow to reduce leverage over time.”

USA, Wyomissing, PA & Las Vegas, NV

Unity Technologies Acquires Game Hosting Division of Multiplay from GAME Digital, PLC

Unity Technologies Inc.Unity Technologies creator of the world’s most popular creation engine that reaches nearly three billion devices worldwide, announced today that the company has entered into a definitive acquisition to acquire Multiplay Ltd and its game hosting business from GAME Digital plc for £19M GBP.

Multiplay is a leading specialist in online game server hosting. Multiplay’s hybrid cloud technology powers some of the world’s largest online games, automatically scaling to meet global player demand. Multiplay’s hybrid approach blends a global network of bare metal servers with the flexible burst capacity from the leading cloud providers and offers a 24/7 team of gaming specialists for round-the-clock monitoring and support to players.

GAME Digital plc comprises three divisions: Retail, Events and esports and Digital Solutions, and delivers for the gaming communities of the UK, Spain and elsewhere. The events business and its associated IP’s will remain with GAME.

John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity Technologies, said, “The team at Multiplay have created scalable multiplayer technology that gives all game creators, from indies to AAA studios, the ability to create performant experiences that can serve hundreds of thousands of players at once. We welcome the Multiplay team to the Unity family.”

USA, San Francisco, CA, England, Southampton

Hasbro acquires a majority interest in mobile games company Backflip Studios

hasbroToy maker Hasbro has acquired a majority stake in Backflip Studios. The Boulder, Colorado based company develops some of the mobile industry’s most popular games including DragonValeNinJump and Paper Toss. Hasbro paid $112 million in an all cash transaction for 70% of the company.

Founded in 2009 by Julian Farrior, Dale Thoms and Tom Blind, Backflip Studios has had more than 300 million downloads of its games. Other titles in their portfolio include, Ragdoll BlasterArmy of Darkness Defense andOutWordedBackflip will continue to develop its own IP, as well as create mobile games featuring many of Hasbro’s best known brands. As part of the transaction, Backflip’s management team will continue to run the company, which will remain in Boulder. Hasbro anticipates the transaction to be neutral to slightly accretive to its 2013 financial results.backflip-logo

“The acquisition of Backflip fits perfectly into our strategy of extending our brands into all forms and formats,” said Brian Goldner, President and CEO of Hasbro, Inc. “As mobile play continues its rapid growth, Backflip’s leadership position, great games and established network of users, makes Hasbro a more meaningful participant in digital gaming. Together with Julian, Dale and the talented team at Backflip, we will continue to take a leadership role in bringing great game play to the mobile environment.”

USA, Pawtucket, RI & Boulder, CO