According to Newzoo, the top 100 countries in the world by game revenue includes:

  • 1.7 billion gamers
  • $81.5 billion in revenue for 2014 this year
  • The US is the top country for game revenue in 2014 at $20.5 billion
  • Japan monetizes the most per person online at $120.20

I ran the numbers differently than they did. You can see the ranks of game revenue by country on the left, but I chose to look at it differently. I divided the revenue by the online population of each country. This gave me the RPPO (Revenue Per Person Online) – since I figure this is a good gauge of technology and that these people are also likely playing on mobile devices. Then I ran the ARPD (Average Revenue Per Day) based on that number divided by 365. It results in some interesting data.

For me, this is most interesting for geographic (soft) launches of mobile games. If we can look at how a game monetizes in specific country or two, we can make a more educated guess about how it might monetize given the propensity to spend per country. Of course it isn’t flawless, but it sure does give an interesting set of benchmarks to measure against. Here’s the full list.

RANK COUNTRY POP INTERNET POP REVENUE RPPO ARPD
3 Japan 126,999,808 101,663,346  $       12,219,552,000  $    120.20  $    0.3293
6 Korea 49,512,026 42,629,854  $         3,356,202,000  $      78.73  $    0.2157
1 USA 322,583,006 274,292,330  $       20,484,628,000  $      74.68  $    0.2046
5 United Kingdom 63,489,234 55,476,893  $         3,426,259,000  $      61.76  $    0.1692
13 Australia 23,630,169 20,806,364  $         1,143,044,000  $      54.94  $    0.1505
8 Canada 35,524,732 31,890,552  $         1,717,991,000  $      53.87  $    0.1476
4 Germany 82,652,256 71,080,940  $         3,528,196,000  $      49.64  $    0.1360
20 Switzerland 8,157,896 6,950,527  $            325,731,000  $      46.86  $    0.1284
7 France 64,641,279 56,237,913  $         2,608,818,000  $      46.39  $    0.1271
30 Ireland 4,677,340 3,899,031  $            179,576,000  $      46.06  $    0.1262
25 Norway 5,091,924 4,888,247  $            223,430,000  $      45.71  $    0.1252
21 Austria 8,526,429 7,111,042  $            310,340,000  $      43.64  $    0.1196
9 Italy 61,070,224 36,886,415  $         1,514,067,000  $      41.05  $    0.1125
19 Sweden 9,631,261 9,053,385  $            370,406,000  $      40.91  $    0.1121
88 Iceland 333,135 323,141  $              13,121,000  $      40.60  $    0.1112
71 Luxembourg 536,761 505,736  $              20,535,000  $      40.60  $    0.1112
26 Denmark 5,640,184 5,470,978  $            221,460,000  $      40.48  $    0.1109
29 Finland 5,443,497 5,096,746  $            205,745,000  $      40.37  $    0.1106
10 Spain 47,066,402 37,370,723  $         1,489,366,000  $      39.85  $    0.1092
34 New Zealand 4,551,349 4,164,939  $            140,004,000  $      33.61  $    0.0921
15 Taiwan 23,532,713 19,292,118  $            643,417,000  $      33.35  $    0.0914
97 Malta 430,146 307,812  $                9,872,000  $      32.07  $    0.0879
22 Belgium 11,144,420 9,807,090  $            293,560,000  $      29.93  $    0.0820
17 Netherlands 16,802,463 15,861,525  $            433,195,000  $      27.31  $    0.0748
27 Portugal 10,610,304 7,983,193  $            214,519,000  $      26.87  $    0.0736
2 China 1,393,783,836 701,073,270  $       17,866,677,000  $      25.48  $    0.0698
46 Singapore 5,517,102 4,378,372  $              81,606,000  $      18.64  $    0.0511
14 Mexico 123,799,215 56,130,564  $         1,006,072,000  $      17.92  $    0.0491
92 Cyprus 1,153,058 779,928  $              11,722,000  $      15.03  $    0.0412
67 Slovenia 2,075,592 1,494,426  $              21,206,000  $      14.19  $    0.0389
40 Czech Republic 10,740,468 8,491,414  $            117,774,000  $      13.87  $    0.0380
83 Estonia 1,283,771 1,078,368  $              14,508,000  $      13.45  $    0.0369
50 Hong Kong 7,259,569 5,372,081  $              70,797,000  $      13.18  $    0.0361
12 Russian 142,467,651 88,059,255  $         1,143,197,000  $      12.98  $    0.0356
53 Slovakia 5,454,154 4,830,199  $              60,760,000  $      12.58  $    0.0345
65 Qatar 2,267,916 2,084,215  $              25,549,000  $      12.26  $    0.0336
64 Lithuania 3,008,287 2,223,124  $              27,068,000  $      12.18  $    0.0334
49 Greece 11,128,404 6,899,610  $              79,699,000  $      11.55  $    0.0316
11 Brazil 202,033,670 118,593,764  $         1,339,375,000  $      11.29  $    0.0309
69 Panama 3,926,017 1,970,861  $              20,980,000  $      10.65  $    0.0292
48 Hungary 9,933,173 7,549,211  $              80,322,000  $      10.64  $    0.0292
23 Poland 38,220,543 26,372,175  $            279,656,000  $      10.60  $    0.0291
18 Turkey 75,837,020 37,349,732  $            375,039,000  $      10.04  $    0.0275
80 Latvia 2,041,111 1,605,130  $              15,915,000  $        9.92  $    0.0272
36 Chile 17,772,871 13,789,971  $            132,225,000  $        9.59  $    0.0263
63 Croatia 4,272,044 2,978,469  $              28,209,000  $        9.47  $    0.0259
55 Belarus 9,307,609 5,511,966  $              51,472,000  $        9.34  $    0.0256
38 Romania 21,640,168 13,196,174  $            122,354,000  $        9.27  $    0.0254
58 Bulgaria 7,167,998 4,548,095  $              41,977,000  $        9.23  $    0.0253
73 Uruguay 3,418,694 2,137,709  $              19,473,000  $        9.11  $    0.0250
24 Argentina 41,803,125 27,004,819  $            243,946,000  $        9.03  $    0.0247
86 TFYR Macedonia 2,108,434 1,572,892  $              13,238,000  $        8.42  $    0.0231
57 Serbia 9,468,378 5,586,343  $              46,297,000  $        8.29  $    0.0227
56 Israel 7,822,107 6,323,391  $              47,912,000  $        7.58  $    0.0208
33 Saudi Arabia 29,369,428 19,677,517  $            143,522,000  $        7.29  $    0.0200
99 Bahrain 1,344,111 1,236,582  $                8,872,000  $        7.17  $    0.0197
72 Costa Rica 4,937,755 2,876,736  $              20,216,000  $        7.03  $    0.0193
52 United Arab Emirates 9,445,624 8,973,343  $              62,819,000  $        7.00  $    0.0192
43 Peru 30,769,077 13,107,627  $              88,903,000  $        6.78  $    0.0186
82 Puerto Rico 3,683,601 2,144,961  $              14,535,000  $        6.78  $    0.0186
28 Colombia 48,929,706 31,589,018  $            209,041,000  $        6.62  $    0.0181
70 Oman 3,926,492 3,121,561  $              20,618,000  $        6.61  $    0.0181
74 Kuwait 3,479,371 2,963,728  $              18,644,000  $        6.29  $    0.0172
90 Albania 3,185,413 2,048,858  $              12,481,000  $        6.09  $    0.0167
39 Ukraine 44,941,303 19,630,361  $            118,604,000  $        6.04  $    0.0166
59 Ecuador 15,982,551 6,806,968  $              40,869,000  $        6.00  $    0.0164
42 Venezuela 30,851,343 15,953,229  $              89,000,000  $        5.58  $    0.0153
93 Libya 6,253,452 1,974,840  $              10,981,000  $        5.56  $    0.0152
81 Bosnia and Herzegovina 3,824,746 2,857,850  $              15,627,000  $        5.47  $    0.0150
60 Dominican Republic 10,528,954 6,089,947  $              33,063,000  $        5.43  $    0.0149
98 Jamaica 2,798,837 1,749,553  $                9,327,000  $        5.33  $    0.0146
78 Lebanon 4,965,914 3,749,265  $              16,933,000  $        4.52  $    0.0124
95 Paraguay 6,917,579 2,313,238  $              10,200,000  $        4.41  $    0.0121
96 El Salvador 6,383,752 2,470,512  $              10,043,000  $        4.07  $    0.0111
87 Cuba 11,258,597 3,429,369  $              13,208,000  $        3.85  $    0.0106
45 Malaysia 30,187,896 22,520,170  $              81,861,000  $        3.64  $    0.0100
91 Guatemala 15,859,714 3,711,173  $              12,433,000  $        3.35  $    0.0092
62 Kazakhstan 16,606,878 9,758,202  $              30,491,000  $        3.12  $    0.0086
44 South Africa 53,139,528 28,179,892  $              85,101,000  $        3.02  $    0.0083
84 Bolivia 10,847,664 4,617,851  $              13,622,000  $        2.95  $    0.0081
51 Thailand 67,222,972 21,578,574  $              63,628,000  $        2.95  $    0.0081
35 Vietnam 92,547,959 44,728,429  $            131,242,000  $        2.93  $    0.0080
76 Syrian Arab Republic 21,986,615 6,134,266  $              17,524,000  $        2.86  $    0.0078
47 Iran 78,470,222 28,249,280  $              80,384,000  $        2.85  $    0.0078
37 Egypt 83,386,739 43,819,731  $            122,434,000  $        2.79  $    0.0077
79 Azerbaijan 9,514,887 5,956,319  $              16,110,000  $        2.70  $    0.0074
54 Morocco 33,492,909 19,760,816  $              53,322,000  $        2.70  $    0.0074
32 Indonesia 252,812,245 54,405,195  $            146,684,000  $        2.70  $    0.0074
16 India 1,267,401,849 223,062,725  $            582,853,000  $        2.61  $    0.0072
85 Tunisia 11,116,899 5,127,114  $              13,302,000  $        2.59  $    0.0071
75 Algeria 39,928,947 7,063,431  $              17,836,000  $        2.53  $    0.0069
41 Philippines 100,096,496 48,526,781  $            115,611,000  $        2.38  $    0.0065
94 Angola 22,137,261 4,706,382  $              10,667,000  $        2.27  $    0.0062
31 Nigeria 178,516,904 74,584,362  $            152,824,000  $        2.05  $    0.0056
100 Sri Lanka 21,445,775 5,333,564  $                8,857,000  $        1.66  $    0.0045
66 Uzbekistan 29,324,920 14,416,131  $              21,900,000  $        1.52  $    0.0042
61 Pakistan 185,132,926 21,993,792  $              30,505,000  $        1.39  $    0.0038
89 Sudan 38,764,090 9,691,023  $              12,692,000  $        1.31  $    0.0036
77 Bangladesh 158,512,570 14,107,619  $              17,555,000  $        1.24  $    0.0034
68 Kenya 45,545,980 18,355,030  $              21,151,000  $        1.15  $    0.0032

I was looking for some data on Cost Per Install (CPI) for games in Japan and a friend of mine who runs a large studio there sent me this link, a blog post by InMobi that I missed in January. It basically sets out the relative cost of mobile installs worldwide. While it isn’t exclusive to games, we can use it to decipher regional costs. To get started, I went over to one of my favorite CPI sites, MobPartner, to check out their scrolling list of live CPI transactions. If you like to watch CPI bidding, it’s the best place to watch the action. Here are a couple pics to illustrate the CPIs today:

CCSE4KE4K UK

As you can see, Empire: Four Kingdoms is buying a lot of installs and they are ranging in the U.S. between $1.90 and $2.40 and hitting $3.05 in the U.K. I would guess the higher priced acquisition in the U.S. is on a better performing network, or more proven ad channel that provides players that either convert a bit higher, or have a higher Lifetime Value (LTV). You need to balance cost with volume in any acquisition campaign, but that’s probably obvious.

So now let’s dig into the InMobi data. We know that their numbers are not just games, so we need to create a reference point.

U.K. 174 $3.31 3.05
U.S. 100 $1.90 $1.75
       
160.5      

The 174 is a number from InMobi on the relative cost per install in the U.K. related to the U.S. Since we know what Goodgame Studios is paying for their users we know the numbers in bold to be true. The InMobi numbers don’t quite match up yet. The difference is 160.5 instead of 174, which is roughly 92.2 percent of the difference. I broke down the numbers with the Relative CPI (R CPI), the Adjusted Relative CPI (AR CPI) and came up with the Actual Game CPI (AG CPI) below. It looks about right to me in terms of acquisition costs. I hope it’s helpful for you too.

Country R CPI AR CPI AG CPI
U.K. 174 160  $  3.05
Australia 127 117  $  2.22
U.S. 100 92  $  1.90
New Zealand 95 88  $  1.66
Malaysia 87 80  $  1.52
South Korea 84 77  $  1.47
Vietnam 84 77  $  1.47
Japan 81 75  $  1.42
Hong Kong 77 71  $  1.35
France 75 69  $  1.31
Singapore 71 65  $  1.24
China 60 55  $  1.05
Germany 56 52  $  0.98
India 40 37  $  0.70

 

 

 

Digi-Capital put out some numbers on recent investments and M&A Activity in the mobile games space.

  • 2013 investment in games has reached $876 Million through the third quarter
  • 2010 investment in games was $2 Billion
  • Average deal size in 2013 is $6.6 Million
  • 80 Percent of the top 10 deals have been executed by Chinese, Japanese or Korean companies
  • There have been 132 investments tracked in 2013
  • Average M&A deal size for games companies is $45.8 Million in 2013

In an article on GamesBeat, information was given as to how GREE values mobile installs when determining what to spend on user acquisition.

*In Japan, GREE’s mobile install Lifetime Value (LTV) is around $15
*In the U.S.A., a mobile install is valued between $2-$5
*GREE says they have a 50 percent organic install rate and they tune the amount they are willing to spend on an install accordingly.
*The average install they are paying is in the $2 range according to the article.

Our friends at Cerca Trova have released their September newsletter outlining recent M&A and investment activity in the games industry. Special thanks to Martin Wierzbicki who spends a lot of time pulling this info together and for allowing us to share this with you. I encourage everyone to sign up to get their updates on a more regular basis and to get to know the team there.

At first glance, this summer’s deal activity seems to be a case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” While the summer’s pace slowed down a bit after EA’s hefty PopCap acquisition, Zynga continued its Pacman-like “acqui-hiring” strategy as it snapped up Astro Ape, EA stuffed Bight Games into its burgeoning portfolio, Vostu continued its South American consolidation strategy and grabbed MP Game Studio, and DeNA/ngmoco acquired sports game developer Lionside. If you add in the Lolapps/6waves merger, one is left with the unmistakable impression that the big boys are getting bigger, the middle tier players are being picked off one by one, and the little guys are left standing on the sidelines hoping to be “acqui-hired” so that they can play in the big leagues too.

However, something deeper is amiss. The mad scramble for content, talent and users over the past few months is a very strong signal that companies are rapidly seeking to build scale and consolidate their strategic positions in social gaming, while preparing for the next phase in the evolution of mobile gaming, and the ultimate convergence of mobile and social platforms. With Project Spartan, HTML5 and the ascendancy of the browser on the horizon, nobody wants to be on the wrong side of any tectonic shifts, and while the current M&A climate might contain whiffs of insanity to some, and strain credulity for others, a strong argument remains that the behavior of the players playing the game is eminently rational, and indeed, prudent.

While recent M&A activity has been focused on building scale and large, volume businesses, things look a bit different on the financing side. Venture investors are increasingly putting money to work in newer (and highly profitable) niche segments ranging from “hard core” and “tween” oriented social games to tools and distribution players. Hard core social developer Kixeye raised $18 million last month and is expected to see $40 million in revenue this year from a user base of just over 1 million daily active users. Montreal-based Woozworld, a user-generated social game for tweens, raised $6 million in new funding and has tripled its user base during the last six months to 15 million monthly active users. And tools provider Unity hauled in an additional $12 million slug of cash, ostensibly for the purpose of accelerating its technology roadmap and speeding up its Asian expansion. While these venture financings as a whole do not definitively provide the road map for the future, embedded in them are hints of both the latest trends in user behavior, and the future direction of the rapidly evolving games landscape.

Games M&A Activity

On September 12, DeNA/ngmoco continued its recent acquisition streak and snapped up sports game developer Lionside, co-founded by Brandon Barber and known for NBA Legends and Lionside football on Facebook. The transaction looks like a classic “acqui-hire” in that Lionside’s games had fewer than 30,000 daily active users, leading many industry observers to conclude that the IP and user base were less important than the team and development resources. The deal comes just three months after DeNA/ngmoco’s acquisition of Dutch mobile developer Rough Cookie.

On September 7, Brazilian social gaming powerhouse Vostu purchased Buenos Aires-based social developer MP Game Studio. MP’s games are known for incorporating properties from TV networks including TNT, The Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, as well as major brands such as Coca-Cola, Unilever and National Geographic. MP’s employees will be relocated to Vostu’s new Buenos Aires headquarters. Perhaps this new business line will steer clear of the legal troubles that have beset Vostu as of late. On August 5, a Brazilian court granted Zynga’s request for an injunction against Vostu for copyright infringment. Notwithstanding Vostu’s stated determination to appeal and fight, this is very bad news for Vostu, as the standards for obtaining an injunction are relatively high. The only good news on the legal front at this point is that the US District court in California has barred Zynga from enforcing the injunction in the US.

On August 16, it was reported that Zynga “acqui-hired” the team behind mobile games start-up Astro Ape, a small New York-based studio that specializes in real-time mobile social games. Astro Ape’s titles include Office Heroes, Dessert Heroes, and Monsterz Revenge. Its most recent game, Vegas Strip City, is the company’s first Android title and was developed exclusively for DeNA’s Mobage social gaming platform. The deal is Zynga’s 15th acquisition in the last twelve months and shows that Zynga is still very much on the hunt for mobile talent.

On August 15, San Mateo-based Digital Chocolate announced the acquisition of casual game developer Sandlot Games. The Bothell, WA-based studio was founded in 2002 and has developed a number of casual titles including Cake Mania and Super Granny. While terms of the deal were not disclosed, Digital Chocolate CEO Trip Hawkins stated that the acquisition of Sandlot would bolster their development capabilities as well as strengthen their presence in Seattle and Eastern Europe. Sandlot founder Dan Bernstein will become a VP at Digital Chocolate and be responsible for the Seattle and St. Petersburg studios.

Also on August 15, EA announced the acquisition of Bight Games, a mobile freemium game developer, further expanding its mobile and casual offering. Based in Price Edward Island, Canada, Bight Games is known for Trade Nations, a popular iPhone and iPad title that was also recently launched on Facebook. After an IP dispute with Seattle’s Z2Live earlier this year, Bight retained the rights to the Facebook version of Trade Nations while the iOS version went to Z2Live. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

On August 2, Glu Mobile announced the acquisition of console developer Griptonite Games and mobile developer Blammo Games. Glu’s CFO explained that the competitive threat of Zynga combined with internal development capacity constraints were key considerations for the moves. Glu paid approximately $28 million in stock for Griptonite Games. Griptonite and its 200 employees were focused on development for console, Nintendo DS, and iPhone, but according to Glu, they will begin an accelerated transition to free-to-play games in the near future. The acquisition of Blammo was also a stock deal valued at up to $20 million. Under the terms of the acquisition, Blammo, which was already under contract to deliver two games to Glu by 2012, will receive 1 million shares of Glu stock up front, with the potential to earn an additional 3.3 million shares if certain targets are met. The earn-out runs for a rather long time, until March 2015, but could be worth up to $15.2 million on top of the $4.6 million up front payment. Blammo is run by Christopher Locke, the creator behind Smurf’s Village and Zombie Cafe.

On August 2, Globant, a privately held Argentianian software developer, announced that it had acquired mobile and social applications developer Nextive. Founded in 2008 in San Francisco, Nextive has a broad set of gaming clients in the US, including Crowdstar, GSN and Zynga. Nextive’s team will lead Globant’s Mobile Studio, and Nextive’s 130 employees will merge into Globant´s team, working from development centers in San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Cordoba. Following this transaction, Globant plans to further expand its US team and expects to add 200 US-based employees in the next two years. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Also on August 2, Sucker Punch Productions became a Sony-owned developer. Based in Bellevue, WA, Sucker Punch Productions is the award-winning developer of the Sly Cooper series for the PlayStation 2 and the inFamous franchise on the PlayStation 3, with combined franchise sales surpassing seven million units worldwide. Worthy of note: inFamous 2 was one of the top selling console games in the US in June. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

On July 19, Live Gamer, a gaming e-commerce infrastructure firm, announced it had acquired Brandport and GamerDNA as part of a move into the games advertising business. The move should help Live Gamer provide more ways to help game publishers monetize their online games, from virtual goods and micro-transactions to advertising inside their games. Andrew Schneider, president of New York-based Live Gamer, explained that Brandport can offer virtual goods to gamers who agree to watch video ads in order to earn virtual currency that they can use to pay for goods inside the game. GamerDNA is the fifth-largest gamer ad network in the U.S. and Europe, according to comScore. Advertisers include Blizzard, Best Buy, KFC, Ubisoft, Sony Online and Namco. Brandport will be re-branded as Live Gamer Ad Elements. The company still operates web sites such as 360voice.com, Crispy Gamer, and GamerDNA.com. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

On July 18, Ravenwood Fair and Ravenstone Mine developer Lolapps announced a merger with Korean games publisher 6waves. The combination of Lolapps and Hong Kong-based 6waves, known for publishing third-party Facebook games, creates a social gaming powerhouse with over 35 million monthly active users on Facebook alone. “The coming together of two of the social gaming industry’s leaders made a lot of sense given our complementary strengths and aligned vision,” said Arjun Sethi, CEO of Lolapps. “6waves is a leading international publisher of social games and Lolapps is a top social games developer.” Rex Ng, CEO of 6waves, will become CEO of the combined company with Arjun Sethi reporting to him. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Games Investment Activity

On September 14, location-based gaming start-up Red Robot Labs announced a new $8.5 million round of funding led by Benchmark Capital. Shasta Ventures and existing investors Rick Thompson, co-founder of Playdom, and Chamath Palihapitiya, former Facebook executive, also participated in the Series A funding round, and Benchmark’s Mitch Lasky will join the company’s board of directors. Last month at Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, Red Robot Labs unveiled its inaugural location-based, massive multiplayer online mobile game, Life Is Crime, in which players collaborate and compete to commit virtual crimes at real locations. While the game has seen some early success, the location-based gaming space has proven to be a particularly difficult nut to crack for other players, so it will be interesting to see if the company can continue to sustain its early momentum.

On August 30, Woozworld, a user-generated social game for tweens, announced $6 million in new funding from Telesystem and iNovia Capital alongside industry angels. The company also announced that Bernard Gershon, former General Manager and SVP of Disney, has joined its board of advisors. With this new round, Montreal-based Woozworld intends to continue developing and promoting its online user-generated social platform, where tween users build entire worlds to creatively engage with their peers, build businesses, or set up restaurants, hotels and games as they choose. Woozworld’s user base has tripled during the last six months and it now receives more than 15 million monthly unique visitors from over 180 countries, with the largest group coming from the United States.

On August 24, Chinese mobile game developer CocoaChina announced that it had raised $14 million in Series B funding from Sequoia Capital China, Disney’s Steamboat Ventures and Northern Light Venture Capital. CocoaChina’s current hit iOS and Android title Fishing Joy has seen over 10 million downloads since it launched four months ago, and is one of China’s top grossing mobile titles. The company also hosts one of the most active iOS communities in China. It will use part of the new funding to further develop its community and to build new advertising and virtual currency products that will appeal to its broader iOS developer base.

On August 4, social game developer Kixeye announced a new $18 million round of financing led by Jafco Ventures with participation from previous investors Trinity Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The financing values Kixeye at nearly $200 million. Kixeye’s first game, Backyard Monsters, put the company on the map and still has more than 1 million daily active users. Kixeye followed with Battle Pirates in April, which was the first synchronous, real-time strategy game on Facebook. Battle Pirates users play an average of 60 minutes per day or 10-20x the industry average. Kixeye’s revenue this year is expected to be about $40 million, compared to about $3 million last year, and the company has been profitable for about eight months. Andrew Trader, a member of the founding team at Zynga who is no longer with the company, has joined Kixeye’s board.

Also on August 4, newly merged 6waves Lolapps, one of the leading social games publishers with 25 million monthly active users, secured a strategic investment from Korean online game developer Nexon. The investment came just days after 6waves Lolapps announced $35 million in funding from Insight Venture Partners. It’s unclear if Nexon’s investment was part of this funding or comes on top of it. The new funding will allow the group to further accelerate its international expansion, as well as to grow the Lolapps’ game development studio. “We are thrilled to be teaming up with 6waves Lolapps in such a significant way,” said Seung-woo Choi, CEO of Nexon in Seoul. “By joining forces, we are combining 6waves Lolapps’ experience in publishing and developing social games with our extensive knowledge of free-to-play games and the microtransaction business model.”

On July 20, cloud gaming company Gaikai announced that it had raised a $30 million Series C round led by New Enterprise Associates with participation from Qualcomm, Benchmark Capital, Rustic Canyon and Intel Capital. Like its larger rival OnLive, Gaikai provides a server-based, cloud gaming technology that streams video games and software experiences through the Internet to any web browser. The Los Angeles-based company recently landed a high profile distribution deal to stream games for Walmart.com and also has a streaming deal in place with EA.

Also on July 20, Unity Technologies, provider of the Unity development framework for cross-platform development of 3D games on the web, mobile devices and consoles, secured $12 million in Series B financing in a round led by WestSummit Capital of China and iGlobe Partners of Singapore. Current investor Sequoia Capital also participated in the round. San Francisco-based Unity already has more than 500,000 registered developers and plans to use the funding to accelerate technology roadmaps and expand into Asia. “Unity’s cross platform solution has been highly regarded as the best 3D game development platform among Chinese developers,” said Raymond Yang of WestSummit Capital. “We see China as the largest growing market for Unity, and we are strategically well positioned to help the company further penetrate the market and realize the full potential of doing business in China.”

Our friends at Cerca Trova Advisors put out a new newsletter and I recommend it highly. Thanks to Martin Wierzbicki and Gerard Wiener who know their stuff on Game Investment and M&A.

Monthly Digest of M&A and Investment Activity, May/June 2011

The games M&A and fundraising juggernaut continues its breathtaking pace as we enter the month of June. Rarely has a day passed, let alone a week, without a head turning (or sometimes, head scratching) deal being announced. Even if one does not include the prospective transactions that almost made it to the finish line and those currently in the pipeline, this year’s deal making remains unprecedented for its combination of depth, breadth, geographical scope and sheer size.

With May’s monthly scorecard of six acquisitions and eight fundings spanning eight countries (Turkey, Germany, Finland and Australia among others), there is no sign of a slowdown. Significantly, the latest batch of financing deals are also demonstrating that investors are still putting money into social gaming after several months of focusing on mobile, distribution and middleware plays. While the conventional wisdom during the last year has been that social gaming is played out, the money flow says not yet, at least when it comes to newer segments and geographies. And when we say money flow, we mean a lot of money. Kabam reeled in $85 million on May 26, which brings its 2011 haul to a staggering $115 million. Crowdstar brought home a not too shabby $23 million round (its first), German social games company woogo landed $24 million and Accel Partners, fresh on the heels of its $42 million round with Rovio, locked down a $12 million investment in another up-and-coming Finnish gaming company, Supercell.

On the M&A front, Zynga continued its steady march on the deal making path with the acquisition of DNA Games and the team behind the popular Cocos2D games engine, and Rovio completed its first major acquisition, adding the Finnish animation studio Kombo to its stable of artists, engineers and developers. Chinese games company Perfect World acquired Star Trek Online maker Cryptic Studios from Atari for €35 million. Electronic Arts hit a double this month with two acquisitions (no doubt trying to keep up with Zynga’s pace), announcing the purchase of Firemint on May 3, which will be folded into EA Interactive, as well as the acquisition of Mobile Post Production, a specialist cross-platform development house. Rounding out the month, News Corp’s IGN Entertainment consolidated its dominant position in games media with the purchase of Hearst’s UGO Entertainment in anticipation of a spin off from News Corp later this year. June is already shaping up to be another exciting month, so let’s see how the rest of the month plays out.

Games M&A Activity
On June 2nd, RockYou announced the acquisition of Australian social games developer 3 Blokes. Founded in 2006, 3 Blokes has developed four social games for the Facebook platform, including their most recent title, Galactic Trader, a space trading and combat game with 200K monthly active users. The team is led by George Fidler, who has previously worked for EA and The Creative Assembly. 3 Blokes will continue to operate independently as a RockYou studio and develop strategy and combat-driven Facebook games. It appears that RockYou, which just brought on a new CEO, is adopting Zynga’s strategy of acquiring small game studios to build talent and games. Earlier this year, the company bought social game studio Playdemic.

On June 1st, Angry Birds developer Rovio announced the acquisition of leading Finnish animation studio Kombo, for an undisclosed sum of cash and stock. The acquisition of the Helsinki-based studio strengthens Rovio’s animation production capabilities, which could be used both to support games development and to improve Rovio’s presence in other media including TV and film. Earlier this month, the company announced that Angry Birds has been downloaded more than 200 million times, cementing its title as the most popular game of the smartphone era, and the most popular game of all time, eclipsing Tetris by almost 2-to-1.

On May 31st, Chinese games company Perfect World announced the acquisition of Star Trek Online maker Cryptic Studios from Atari for €35 million ($50 million). Cryptic Studios developed the innovative and successful City of Heroes, as well as its subsequent expansion, City of Villains. Both titles garnered numerous awards from leading publications including GameSpy’s Game of the Year award in 2004. After developing both City of Heroes and City of Villains, Cryptic Studios was purchased by Atari in 2008 and created Champions Online and Star Trek Online. The deal highlights the expanding ambitions of Chinese games companies outside of China. Perfect World’s Chairman and CEO, Michael Chi, said that the acquisition will help it further penetrate into the U.S. and global online game markets.

On May 18th, ngmoco (DeNA) acquired Rough Cookie, the Dutch mobile games developer behind hits such as Star Defense, We Farm and We City. Rough Cookie will help DeNA to establish a presence in Europe as the company readies the global launch of its social network for mobile games, Mobage. Rough Cookie was founded 2008 by Wouter ten Brink, Danny Hoffman and Erik t’ Sas, to focus on smartphone games development. Star Defense was an early success; after ngmoco presented the game on the WWDC keynote stage, the title became a top-selling App Store game in the summer of 2009. The game earned Rough Cookie a Dutch Game Award as well as a mention in the Top 50 iPhone Developers of the Year, by Pocket Gamer. Terms of the deal were not announced.

On May 18th, Zynga announced the acquisition of DNA Games, a social games developer based in San Francisco. DNA saw success with its first Facebook game, Casino City, which reached 2.4 million monthly active users at its peak in February 2011. While DNA’s recent titles have been less successful, Zynga seems to be particularly interested in its technology platform and approach to A/B split testing and feature iteration, which includes detailed tracking of test results and player behavoir across gender and age demographics as well as region and time of day. The deal is Zynga’s 14th acquisition in the last 12 months.

On May 11th, WebMediaBrands acquired Inside Network, a popular research provider and blog network for social and mobile app developers, in a cash and stock transaction valued at $14 million. Inside Network’s properties include the widely-read blogs Inside Facebook, Inside Social Games and Inside Mobile Apps; the Inside Social Apps conference; and the research products AppData, Inside Virtual Goods, and the Facebook Marketing Bible. The company’s six full-time employees in Palo Alto will join WebMediaBrands. During the last several years, WebMediaBrands has built up a strong portfolio of social media-focused news sites and conferences. With this acquisition, it will now arguably be the leader in the social media news market, especially when it comes to Facebook-specific news.

On May 9th, Zynga acq-hired Ricardo Quesada and Rolando Abarca, key contributors to the popular Cocos2D open source games engine for iOS. Cocos2D is widely used by small developers as well as larger players, such as Atari, ngmoco and Gamevil, in the development of mobile games for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Mac. Terms of the deal were not announced. Zynga is continuing to build out its presence in the mobile games space through a combination of recent hires and acquisitions including last month’s purchase of UK mobile developer Wonderland Software and the acquisition of mobile developer Floodgate Entertainment in March.

On May 6th, News Corp’s IGN Entertainment announced the acquisition of Hearst’s UGO Entertainment, expanding its reach over online videogame news. IGN will now operate its existing properties along with UGO.com, 1UP.com and UGO’s entire network of owned and affiliated properties. Together, the properties reach a global audience of more than 70 million monthly visitors. The acquisition comes as rumors continue to heat up that News Corp is preparing to spin off IGN as a separate company during the next few months. The business is growing rapidly and is expected to bring in $10 million in profit this year on revenue of $100 million.

On May 3rd, Electronic Arts announced the acquisition of Firemint, a leading mobile game developer based in Melbourne, Australia. Firemint is the developer behind popular games such as Flight Control and Real Racing for the iPhone and iPad. The 60 person company was founded in 1999 by CEO Robert Murray, and will now become part of EA Interactive, the division of Electronic Arts focused on digital business that includes EA Mobile, Pogo and social gaming outfits like Playfish. EA also simultaneously announced the acquisition of Mobile Post Production, a specialist in cross-platform development and porting of games for smartphones. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Games Investment Activity
Wooga, a leading German social games company, landed a $24 million round of funding led by Highland Capital Partners, Tenaya Capital and existing investors Balderton Capital and HV Holtzbrinck Ventures. Founded in 2009, wooga launched its first free-to-play brain training game, Brain Buddies, when the team was just five people strong. Today, the company employs a team of 85 people in Berlin and is the third largest social games developer on Facebook with 30 million monthly active users. The team has created a number of popular social games, including Monster World, Diamond Dash and Bubble Island. The investment was announced on June 1st.

Austin-based games developer Portalarium raised a second round of financing from m8 Capital in the UK and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, bringing the total raised by the company to $3.6 million. Portalarium was launched by Richard Garriott, the well-known game developer who sold his two previous companies: Origin, sold to Electronic Arts in 1992 and Destination Games, sold to NCsoft in 2001. In the past year, the company released two games, Port Casino Poker and Port Casino Blackjack, which were created to quickly build out its backend technology and start interconnecting a player network across platforms and social networks. The funding comes just as the company is gearing up for the launch of a brand new and unique social media game. The investment was announced on June 1st.

Kabam, one of the leading developers of hardcore social games, raised $85 million in Series D financing led by Google Ventures and Pinnacle Ventures. The company has grown from 25 to over 400 employees in the past 16 months on the strong performance of its Facebook game lineup, Kingdoms of Camelot, Dragons of Atlantis, Glory of Rome and Global Warfare. Kabam’s user base of 7.2 million monthly active users is a fraction of Zynga’s 250 million, but Kabam’s users spend significantly more time and money playing its games than typical social games users. With the Series D investment, Kabam is expected to continue to expand its games portfolio, further international growth (particularly in Asia) and make additional acquisitions. The investment was announced on May 26th and comes just four months after the company raised $30 million in a Series C round in January 2011.

Peak Games, the largest and fastest-growing social gaming company in Turkey, Middle East and North Africa, raised $5 million in Series A financing led by German venture firm Earlybird Venture Capital. The company has 10 million monthly active users through a mixture of original IP, including Okey, the most popular game in Turkey, Okey Plus and Ikon Kiz (FabGirl), and licensed games such as Komsu Ciftlik. Part of Peak Games’ success has been driven by how the company reaches underserved markets with localized and culturally-specific games that employ strong engagement and monetization strategies. The investment was announced on May 25th.

Finnish social games developer Supercell raised $12 million in a funding round led by Accel Partners. Klaas Kersting, founder of German browser-game giant Gameforge also invested in the round, as did London Venture Partners, one of Supercell’s previous investors. Supercell is developing titles for gamers who want online browser-based games that are bigger in scope than the most social games, but less involved than massively-multiplayer games. The company’s first game, Gunshine.net, came out of closed beta in May and grew rapidly from 30K to 350K monthly active users during the month. The company is led by Ilkka Paananen, who previously founded Finnish mobile games developer Sumea and sold the company to Digital Chocolate in 2004. The investment was announced on May 25th and represents Accel’s second financing this year of a Finnish games company. In March, Accel co-led a $42 million round in Finnish mobile developer Rovio.

CrowdStar, a leading social games developer, closed a $23 million round led by Intel Capital and Time Warner with participation from China’s The9 and NVInvestments. CrowdStar is the fifth largest social games developer on Facebook with 29 million monthly active users. Its most popular games include It Girl, Happy Aquarium and Happy Pets. The company currently has over 100 employees and will use the funding to double headcount this year as well as grow through acq-hires in the mobile and social gaming spaces. CrowdStar has never before taken in institutional funding and previously funded all of its growth through operating profits. The investment was announced on May 23rd.
Canadian mobile games publisher Fuse Powered raised $2 million from BlackBerry Partners Fund and NFQ Ventures. Fuse is a mobile game publishing company formed in 2009, with a focus on maximizing customer value and game discovery through the use of propriety tools and real-time analytics software. Fuse offers analytics tools to support its mobile development partners, such as a real-time game performance dashboard and data-driven business plans. The company will use the investment to expand staffing, technology infrastructure, partnership support and business development. The investment was announced on May 19th.

London-based online games publisher We R Interactive raised $5 million in funding from private investors including Paul Fitzsimons, ex-media sector partner at Apax Partners and Elio Leoni-Sceti, former CEO of EMI Music. The company’s debut game, I AM PLAYR, is a point-of-view soccer game that allows users to experience life through the eyes of a professional soccer player. It fuses live action video, interactive story-telling and first-person perspective game play to create an original narrative, where the storyline is dictated by the user’s decisions and actions both on and off the field. The investment was announced on May 13th.

Social games developer Funzio closed a $20 million Series A round led by IDG Ventures and China-focused investment firm IDG Capital Partners. The company launched its first game, Crime City, in September 2010, which quickly became one of the top Facebook games of the year with 7 million monthly active users. Building on the success of Crime City, Funzio plans to use the funding to triple its team this year and scale its business so that it can launch games faster and develop them in parallel. The investment was announced on May 10th.

Row Sham Bow, an Orlando-based game development studio creating games for social networks, raised $3 million in funding from early-stage venture capital firm Intersouth Partners. The company was established by Philip Holt, who was previously VP, President and GM of EA’s Tiburon studio and SVP of Product Development for THQ, and Nick Gonzalez, who also spent time at EA’s Tiburon studio. The investment was announced on May 9th.

Cerca Trova Advisors
Cerca Trova is an investment banking and strategic advisory firm focused on opportunities in technology, mobile and digital media including gaming and interactive entertainment. We provide M&A advisory, capital raising and strategy consulting services to companies at all stages of development. Our principals are experienced M&A practitioners and industry insiders with deep domain expertise and decades of experience working with both established and growing companies and a clear understanding of the issues and challenges that they face. Cerca Trova has offices in San Francisco, Helsinki and Beijing. www.cercatrovaadvisors.com