Activision Blizzard’s purchase of King could be the acquisition of the year

Candy Crush Saga (CCS), yes that game, is probably one of the most well known titles in modern pop culture. It’s the Super Mario Bros. of the mobile era, if you will, and has accrued just about as many downloads as stars in space. And that’s probably a good point at which to start talking about King.

Based in Ireland but founded in Sweden, CCS developer King is being snapped up by Activision Blizzard for a cool US$5.9-billion. That’s including taking out a US$2.3-billion loan, mind, and at a price of US$18 a share. Since the announcement, King’s share price on the NYSE climbed by 3%.

From Memeburn: Candy Crush Saga maker King latest to join IPO queue

So, while you juggle with that obviously risky play in mind, why is one of the world’s biggest gaming publishers purchasing what was once one of the most lucrative mobile gaming development companies?

Simple. Why is Konami, Nintendo, Bethesda and Square Enix focusing more and more on mobile? It’s where the money and user base lie.

Candy Crush Saga currently ropes in over US$900 000 a day on the Apple App Store alone and although few of King’s other titles have offered the same type of rewards, there’s no denying that it’s probably one of the most stable names in the mobile gaming industry.

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It’s primary competition Zynga, once mighty in its own right, saw a YoY revenue drop of over US$690-million in 2014, while the likes of King has seen its quarterly revenue in 2015 steadily climb. And if there’s one thing that Activision does need, it’s diversity in the gaming market. Oh, yes, and its revenue fell last year.

The massive merger between it and Blizzard in 2008 did provide both companies with a degree of stability, but the likes of World of Warcraft and Call of Duty (to name just two of many franchises) won’t exactly sustain the beast forever.

Granted, console games and home gaming is evolving and companies are forced to evolve with it.

According to new Nintendo NX rumours, the Japanese company’s next console will be a hybrid mobile-home device. And if that isn’t enough to convince you of the impending evolution, Nintendo has just announced its first mobile game, Miitomo. No one would’ve seen that coming at the turn of the decade.

Read more: Nintendo announces its first mobile game coming in 2016

King, of course, covers Facebook’s enormous platform as well as mobile titles on Android, iOS and the lesser OSes, and has even made its way into Windows 10 as a default install of CCS. Overall, there are around ten King titles available on these stores, and gives Activision the footing it desires in the mobile space. But it does beg the question: are we going to see King entrusted with porting other Activision Blizzard titles?

Read more: ‘Candy Crush Saga’ is coming to Windows 10 devices, automatically

For the record, King will remain as an independent branch of Activision Blizzard, and will continue to operate under current King CEO Riccardo Zacconi. The deal is expected to be completed in Q2 2016.

Andy Walker, former editor


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