Activision Blizzard’s expansion into the mobile market has been limited to ports of popular titles such as Hearthstone and companion applications for franchise titles like Call of Duty and Destiny. It appears that they’ve decided to more aggressively expand in the area, however. Activision Blizzard has just announced that they are in the process of acquiring Candy Crush Saga developer King for a sum of $5.9 billion.
The acquisition is still considered to be mid-process, as business deals of this kind require approval by King’s home government in Ireland before completion. This hitch is intended to ensure the financial details of all parties involved are legal and also to ensure the joining of the companies won’t effectively create a monopoly. It’s unlikely that the acquisition will have any issues in this regard, and Activision Blizzard expects the deal to be fully official by spring 2016.
For perspective, in 2013 Candy Crush Saga was the most downloaded app, with revenue peaking at $633,000 per day. In 2014 King reported a total of $1.33 billion in Candy Crush Saga in-app purchases, noted as significantly less than 2013’s earnings. In addition to Candy Crush Saga, King has 11 other titles available across Facebook, iOS and Android.
Activision Blizzard, with the acquisition of King, has acquired yet another of the biggest and most popular video game franchises of the modern era. Candy Crush Saga will sit perfectly next to Call of Duty, Skylanders, and each of Blizzard’s mainstay franchises and games including World of Warcraft. The question that arises is how Activision plans to tie this mobile juggernaut into their currently console-focused enterprise?
Luckily, Activision Blizzard provided a prepared statement on exactly that topic, though regulatory it certainly isn’t:
“Activision Blizzard believes that the addition of King’s highly-complementary business will position Activision Blizzard as a global leader in interactive entertainment across mobile, console and PC platforms, and positions the company for future growth.”
Activision must believe that with the acquisition of King they automatically become a “global leader” in the market. Or perhaps they saw themselves as a global leader due to the success of Hearthstone, Skylanders, and titles related to Call of Duty and Guitar Hero on mobile platforms. Or perhaps they just had the money on-hand and saw the mobile market as the economy most worth investing in. Whatever their reasoning, Activision has instantly become a bigger giant within the industry than ever.
Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, released the following statement regarding the publisher’s current standing within the industry:
“The combined revenues and profits solidify our position as the largest, most profitable standalone company in interactive entertainment. With a combined global network of more than half a billion monthly active users, our potential to reach audiences around the world on the device of their choosing enables us to deliver great games to even bigger audiences than ever before.”
With Candy Crush being King’s single major franchise, Activision’s acquisition of the developer is absolutely not without risk. After all, we’re seeing the unofficial Angry Birds saga coming to a close right before our eyes. Angry Birds, which could be said to be the Candy Crush Saga of 2009, is seeing its developer Rovio lay off as much as 40% of its workforce in 2014. Now consider that Candy Crush Saga could be called the Clash of Clans of 2012 and the message should be clear. Mobile popularity fades as fast as it grows.
If Activision Blizzard is willing to spend $5.9 billion on King, they must either know the developer has something very valuable being worked on currently, or they must have ideas for the brand themselves. And considering how fast-moving and distracted the mobile gaming audience is (it’s what made Candy Crush Saga a success in the first place, after all), hopefully Activision’s plans are laid out for the very near future.