THQ Nordic acquires Timesplitters

THQ NordicTHQ Nordic has acquired the video game trilogy Timesplitters from owner Crytek GmbH. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Timesplitters was largely considered as one of the most influential console games of the early 2000’s. The three game series earned a large and passionate fan base thanks to its unique humour, art style and pop culture references while encouraging customization and modification to give each person their own individual experience. Timesplitters was originally created by the development studio Free Radical Design that later become Deep Silver Dambuster, part of the THQ Nordic group.

In addition to Timesplitters, the IP and the rights to science fiction action-adventure game Second Sight were acquired. Both acquisitions were made through THQ Nordic’s fully owned subsidiary Koch Media GmbH, which they acquired in February 2018.

Austria, Vienna & Germany, Frankfurt

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Sumo Group acquires The Chinese Room for £2.2M

Sumo GroupSumo Group, the award-winning provider of creative and development services to the video games and entertainment industries, has acquired The Chinese Room from founders Dan Pinchbeck and Jessica Curry for £2.2 million, of which £1.6 million in cash, with the remaining £0.6 million paid through the issue of new shares in Sumo.

As an award-winning independent game developer, The Chinese Room is best known for creating the innovative games ‘Dear Esther’, ‘Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs’, the genre-defining ‘Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’ and Google Daydream exclusive ‘So Let Us Melt’.

Dan will take the role of Creative Director of The Chinese Room, while Jessica will continue her career independently as a composer.

The Chinese Room will operate as part of Sumo Digital, becoming its fifth studio and fourth in the UK. Sumo Group intends to invest in The Chinese Room and continue development of current projects by building its team and collaborating with other Sumo Digital studios.

Carl Cavers, CEO of Sumo Group, said, “I am really pleased that Dan has chosen to join Sumo Group. We believe Dan’s renowned creative abilities will add real value to Sumo Group. The Chinese Room has an outstanding reputation and its acquisition will enhance and extend Sumo Digital’s capabilities. Having a studio in the south of England opens new doors for the Group and we are confident that it will create exciting opportunities.

This acquisition follows the addition of the studio in Newcastle, formerly CCP Games, in January this year, and the Nottingham studio that opened in 2016.

UK, Sheffield & Brighton

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Keywords Studios acquires AI and machine learning firm Yokozuna Data

keywordsKeywords Studios is purchasing Yokozuna Data, a developer of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, from Silicon Studio Corporation for US$1.5mln in cash, which includes all associated technology rights and trademarks.

Yokozuna’s technologies, which include a range of self-learning, predictive analytic models drawing on AI and machine learning tech, are designed to predict the behaviour of individual video game players and adapt themselves to changes made in the game. The models are also used to determine the likelihood of players abandoning the game and their propensity to buy items in the game. The firm also offers a management framework which allows game companies to adjust key parameters, record and view results, and to monitor key performance metrics of their games in live operation.

As part of the agreement, Keywords will collaborate with Yokozuna’s previous owner Silicon to introduce the technologies developed by the company to Japanese game developers and publishers, while also retaining the non-exclusive right to resell Yokozuna’s solutions to non-game markets (such as healthcare) in exchange for a share of associated revenues.

Andrew Day, Keywords’ chief executive, said that the company had been looking to “establish a foothold in…video game analytics for a few years”, and that while Yokozuna was pre-revenue, it was a “rare asset” with clients expected to start implementing the software in 2018. He added that as video games continued to transition to a service model from a product model, “the use of sophisticated analytics engines like this to automatically understand player behaviour and trigger real time decisions in-game will become increasingly valuable”, and that the use of AI to adapt predictive models in games based on in-game changes was “critical to the future of the video games industry”.

Ireland, Dublin & Japan, Tokyo

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Keywords Studios acquires Snowed In Studios for $4M (CAD)

keywordsKeywords Studios, the international creative and technical services provider to the global video games industry, has acquired Snowed In Studios Inc. from its current owners, Jean-Sylvain Sormany, Tim Vito and Evan Hahn, for up to $4 million Canadian dollars.

Founded in 2010 and based in Ottawa, Canada, Snowed In offers engineering and co-development services to the video-games industry and has a strong global reputation and well-established relationships with clients such as Ubisoft, Nickelodeon and Bethesda. The company has 29 employees all working in-house in its office in Ottawa led by the current owners, who will remain with Snowed In to drive its growth as part of Keywords.

Andrew Day, CEO of Keywords Studios, said, “The addition of Snowed In to the Group will add strength and scale to our recently established engineering service line and enable Snowed In to take advantage of the group’s very strong presence in the region to support its growth. Having grown the engineering service line from nothing in May 2017, we now employ over 300 software engineers in multiple regions, and I’m delighted that Jean-Sylvain, Tim, Evan and their highly talented and creative team are joining the group as we continue to grow.”

Ireland, Dublin & Canada, Ottawa

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THQ Nordic acquires German game developer and publisher HandyGames

THQ NordicTHQ Nordic has acquired the game developer and publisher HandyGames, headquartered in Giebelstadt, Germany.

THQ Nordic GmbH is acquiring 100% of the shares for a total cash consideration of 1 million euro. In addition, the parties have agreed a potential performance based earnout of up to 1.5 million euro.

Founded in 2000, HandyGames has released more than 150 games on a multitude of platforms, using a wide range of technologies. Current game development is focused on iOS, Android, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, tablet computers, Android TV, Wearables as well as digital-only releases on next generation consoles. The company currently has about 50 employees.

HandyGames will continue operating as a developer and publisher for value-priced projects under the management of THQ Nordic GmbH in Vienna.

THQ Nordic MD Klemens Kreuzer said, “It is a true win-win situation for all parties involved, as HandyGames perfectly complements the setup of the rest of our group as the new ‘go to’-publisher for small- and mid-sized developers and projects and will benefit from our network and infrastructure in return. In joining forces with HandyGames, THQ Nordic is tapping into the VR Games segment, and gains access to one of Europe’s most powerful mobile games distribution network”.

Austria, Vienna & Germany, Geibelstadt

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Electronic Arts acquires Industrial Toys

Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts Inc. has acquired Industrial Toys, a creative team of experienced game makers based in Pasadena, California. Led by Alex Seropian, founder and former CEO of Bungie Studios and former executive at Disney Interactive, the team is known for developing unique game ideas on different devices, and they join EA with a continued focus on bringing new game concepts to life. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The 14-person Industrial Toys studio is joining EA’s Worldwide Studios organisation, the global creative collective responsible for development of EA titles across all major platforms.

Samantha Ryan, SVP and Group GM in EA’s Worldwide Studios group said, “Creating breakthrough games takes passionate developers and incredible creativity, and each time we’ve worked with the Industrial Toys team, we’ve been inspired by their unique approach. We’re thrilled to have them join our studio organisation, pursue new ideas together and bring amazing new games to our players.”

USA, Redwood, CA & Pasadena, CA

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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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