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Aristocrat Leisure eyes potential sale of Plarium and Big Fish Games

Casino firm is undertaking a strategic review of its non-social casino games as Product Madness stays off the chopping block
Aristocrat Leisure eyes potential sale of Plarium and Big Fish Games

Australian casino firm Aristocrat Leisure could sell Big Fish Games and Plarium as part of a strategic review of its games businesses.

In its latest financials for first the first half of the financial year, the company said the two studios had added “significant scale” to its social casino business and broader digital offering.

However, the developers’ casual and midcore portfolios don’t fit into Aristocrat Leisure’s new core focus on regulated gaming and social casino.

The firm is now conducting a strategic review of the assets and will assess “all options”. Product Madness, another games division at Aristocrat, was not said to be impacted by the plans.

News of the strategic review of Plarium and Big Fish Games’ non-social casino assets comes as Aristocrat Leisure closed its $1.2 billion acquisition of online real money gaming solutions provider NeoGames in April.

Non-social casino games “don’t fit”

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Aristocrat Leisure CEO Trevor Croker said a sale or spinoff of the two games companies were “some of the options” open to it.

He added that RPGs, strategy titles and casual games “don’t fit in scale within the portfolio”. Big Fish’s social casino games were said to be excluded from the review.

Aristocrat Leisure closed its acquisition of Big Fish Games in a $990 million deal in January 2018.

The company has worked on a mix of casual and social casino titles, including its flagship game Big Fish Casino and other titles such as Gummy Drop, Jackpot Magic Slots & Casino, and EverMerge.

Plarium, meanwhile, was snapped up in August 2017 for $500 million. At the time, the company was known for strategy titles like Vikings: War of Clans, Throne: Kingdom at War and Stormfall.

Since then, it has expanded its portfolio with the highly successful RAID: Shadow Legends and games such as Mech Arena and Lost Island: Blast Adventure. None of its games are in the social casino genre.

Company financials

In Aristocrat Leisure's half-year results for the six months ending March 31st, 2024, the company reported AU$3.27 billion ($2.18bn) in operating revenue, a rise 6.1% year-over-year. Profits after tax, meanwhile, rose 8.9% Y/Y to AU$711.3 million ($475.1m).

The Pixel United division, which houses its games divisions, saw bookings decline by 0.9% Y/Y to $877 million.

It highlighted the outperformance of its social casino titles in particular, which it said demonstrated “portfolio resilience and effective player engagement”.