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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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

Ubisoft acquires Blue Mammoth Games studio

UbisoftFollowing its acquisition of 1492 Studio earlier this week, Ubisoft has acquired the video game development studio Blue Mammoth Games. With the acquisition, Ubisoft adds Brawlhalla, currently the most played fighting game on Steam, to its portfolio and bolsters its online expertise. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Blue Mammoth Games is based near Atlanta, Georgia, and is comprised of 21 talented team members, including founders Matthew Woomer and Lincoln Hamilton, who have a multiplayer online background. The studio developed and published Brawlhalla, a free-to-play online brawler that is among the top free-to-play games on PS4.

Laurent Detoc, President of Ubisoft NCSA, said, “The team at Blue Mammoth Games is expert at developing and running scalable, competitive, multiplayer online games, and they’ll be a great addition to Ubisoft’s network of studios. With Brawlhalla, we’re getting a hugely popular and highly-profitable title that aligns with our strategy of expanding our audience and providing players with long-lasting, entertaining gaming experiences.”

France, Rennes & USA, Atlanta, GA

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Ubisoft acquires 1492 Studio

UbisoftVideo game publisher Ubisoft has acquired 1492 Studio, a game development studio specialised in the development of free-to-play episodic and interactive stories on mobile. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 2014 and based near Montpellier, France, the team at 1492 Studio created the successful mobile franchise “Is it Love?”, a series of interactive dramas in which a player’s choices shape their storyline, determine their discoveries and deepen their relationships in the game. The game is one of the top five grossing mobile simulation games in France and one of the top 20 in the U.S..

Jean-Michel Detoc, executive director of Ubisoft Mobile , said, “‘Is It Love?’ already is one of the leaders in episodic, narrative-driven mobile games, with a highly-engaged community of players. This deal is in keeping with our strategy of reaching new audiences through smart, targeted, and highly profitable acquisitions.”

France, Rennes & Vailhauquès

ReedPOP acquires Gamer Network

ReedpopReed Exhibitions’ games and pop culture live events division ReedPOP is adding Gamer Network and its portfolio of events, websites, and video channels to its portfolio. The addition of Gamer Network marks ReedPOP’s first expansion beyond the event production business. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Gamer Network is home to editorial and community websites and YouTube channels, including flagship brands Eurogamer, RockPaperShotgun, GamesIndustry.biz, VG247, Outside Xbox, Digital Foundry and USgamer. The company also organises the UK’s biggest games event, EGX and the world class indie games event, EGX Rezzed.

The combination of the two portfolios gives ReedPOP the opportunity to combine its live games events across four continents with a worldwide online community of over 50 million monthly users.

Lance Fensterman, global head of ReedPOP said, “Gamer Network is one of the world’s leading voices for gamers and gaming culture. The opportunity to be in business with Rupert Loman and the brands, events and team he has created is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Bringing ReedPOP and Gamer Network together, PAX and EGX together – these are the kinds of mash ups you dream of. We are beyond excited to dream up new concepts that will blow the minds of fans all over the world.”

USA, Norwalk, CT & UK, Brighton

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