10 biggest video game acquisitions of all time

From Supercell and Moonton to Bethesda and Playdemic

10 biggest video game acquisitions of all time

Mergers and acquisitions are frequent in the games industry, with companies aiming to expand their portfolio and reach across the ever-growing games market.

Large video game publishers will often acquire developers that have a history of producing successful titles in hope of creating more hits, while those outside of the industry are ever trying to get in on a slice of the action with the purchase of a studio being one of the easiest routes.

As a result, the profitability of the market is being noticed more than ever and the number of deals are only on the rise too.

$60 billion

Within the first six months of 2021, the games industry experienced $60 billion worth of deals, with 44 per cent of that figure accounted for by those in mobile games.

Here we examine the top 10 biggest video game acquisitions of all time and why those acquisitions were made. 

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  • Number 10 - Leyou

    Number 10 - Leyou  logo

    Acquirer: Tencent
    Headquarters: Hong Kong, China
    Date: December 14th, 2020
    Valuation: $1.3 billion

    Founded in 2010, Leyou is a Chinese video game holding company based in Hong Kong. The company was originally involved in the poultry industry, however, after a decrease in poultry-based income, Leyou made the decision to venture into the video games space.

    In 2014, Leyou acquired a majority stake in Canadian game developer Digital Extremes - best known for Warframe and co-creating Epic Games’ Unreal series.

    In December 2020, Chinese conglomerate Tencent acquired Leyou through its subsidiary Image Frame Investment for $1.3 billion, making it Tencent’s second-largest acquisition to date.

  • Number 9 - Playdemic

    Number 9 - Playdemic logo

    Acquirer: EA
    Headquarters: Manchester, UK
    Date: June 23rd, 2021
    Valuation: $1.4 billion

    Playdemic is a UK based mobile developer behind the creation of Golf Clash. Across its lifetime, Golf Clash has exceeded $780 million across the App Store and Google Play.

    In June 2021, EA purchased Playdemic from Warner Bros. for $1.4 billion, adding to its portfolio of 15 live mobile titles. EA had suggested that it wants to reach half a billion players via mobile, with this reason a possibility for the acquisition.

    The purchase of Playdemic is the second-largest acquisition EA has made.

  • Number 8 - Namco

    Number 8 - Namco logo

    Acquirer: Bandai
    Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
    Date: September 25th, 2005
    Valuation: $1.7 billion

    Namco was a Japanese video game developer founded in 1955 and began as an operator for coin-based amusement park rides, before eventually entering video game development after acquiring the Japanese division of Atari in 1974. Namco began to create arcade games such as Pac-Man and ultimately entered the home console market bringing their arcade titles to consoles.

    In September 2005, aiming to enter the games industry, Bandai, a toy and anime production company, acquired Namco for $1.7 billion with Namco receiving 43 per cent of Bandai’s shares.

    In March 2006, a merger between the two companies was formed thus creating Bandai Namco. Since the merger, Bandai Namco has become one of the largest video game publishers worldwide.

  • Number 7 - Peak

    Number 7 - Peak logo

    Acquirer: Zynga
    Headquarters: Istanbul, Turkey
    Date: July 1st, 2020
    Valuation: $1.8 billion

    Peak is a Turkish based games developer behind the release of casual puzzle games Toon Blast and Toy Blast. The company surpassed $1 billion in lifetime revenue across its portfolio in 2019. The following year, Toon Blast itself reached $1 billion in global revenue.

    Zynga is no stranger to acquisitions and acquired Peak in July 2020 for $1.8 billion, with $900 million in cash and $900 million as Zynga common stock shares - making it Zynga’s largest acquisition to date.

  • Number 6 - Glu Mobile

    Number 6 - Glu Mobile logo

    Acquirer: Electronic Arts
    Headquarters: California, US
    Date: April 30th, 2021
    Valuation: $2.4 billion

    Glu Mobile is a US mobile game developer and publisher based in San Francisco. The company is best known for titles such as Disney Sorcerer’s Arena, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and Diner Dash Adventures. Glu Mobile’s total revenue reached $540 million in 2020.

    Electronic Arts acquired Glu Mobile for $2.4 billion in cash in April 2021 following Glu’s successful generation of $540 million through 2020.

    At the time, the deal consisted of more than 15 games and 100 million DAUs, with the purchase of Glu Mobile thought to be part of EA’s continued growth strategy to expand its reach to more players across the world.

  • Number 5 - Mojang Studios

    Number 5 - Mojang Studios logo

    Acquirer: Microsoft
    Headquarters: Stockholm, Sweden
    Date: September 15th, 2014
    Valuation: $2.5 billion

    Mojang Studios is a Swedish game developer behind sandbox builder Minecraft. Since its initial release in 2011, Minecraft has sold more than 200 million units worldwide making it one of the best-selling video games of all time. Several Minecraft spin-offs have been released including Minecraft: Story Mode and Minecraft Dungeons.

    Microsoft acquired Mojang in 2014 through Xbox Game studios for $2.5 billion, making the deal Microsoft’s second-largest acquisition to date.

    Acquiring Mojang allowed Microsoft access to users and a revenue stream spanning a myriad of non-Microsoft platforms.

  • Number 4 - Moonton

    Number 4 - Moonton logo

    Acquirer: ByteDance
    Headquarters: Shanghai, China
    Date: March 22nd, 2021
    Valuation: $4 billion

    Moonton is a Chinese mobile game developer and publisher founded in 2014. Based in Shanghai, the company is best known for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang which received two spin-offs, Mobile Legends: Adventure and Mobile Legends: Pocket.

    As of March 2021, Chinese internet technology giant ByteDance, through subsidiary Nuverse, acquired Moonton. The deal was valued at $4 billion although the amount was not disclosed by ByteDance.

    ByteDance acquired Moonton to extend the global offerings that Nuverse could provide to the mobile games industry.

  • Number 3 - King

    Number 3 - King logo

    Acquirer: Activision Blizzard
    Headquarters: St. Julian’s, Malta
    Date: February 23rd, 2016
    Valuation: $5.9 billion

    King is a social mobile game developer founded in Stockholm, Sweden, and is most recognisable for creating Candy Crush Saga, which received three sequels: Candy Crush Soda Saga, Candy Crush Jelly Saga and Candy Crush Friends Saga. 

    Activision Blizzard acquired King for $5.9 billion in February 2016, with $3.6 million from internal cash and the rest from a pre-existing credit agreement. After the deal was complete, King continued to operate as an independent company with no immediate changes made to upper management.

    Purchasing King gave Activision Blizzard a stronger foothold in the mobile games market. At the time, it was speculated that Activision overpaid for King due to declining financials. However, since then, King has reached record revenue numbers and continues to bring in large player spending every year. 

  • Number 2 - Bethesda Softworks (ZeniMax Media)

    Number 2 - Bethesda Softworks (ZeniMax Media) logo

    Acquirer: Microsoft
    Headquarters: Maryland, US
    Date: September 21st, 2020
    Valuation: $7.5 billion

    ZeniMax Media is a US video game holding firm best known as the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, developers of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises.

    Bethesda primarily develops titles for consoles and PC but has found some success with mobile titles, such as The Elder Scrolls: Blades and Fallout Shelter.

    Microsoft acquired ZeniMax media for $7.5 billion cash in September 2020, a move that was approved by both the European Commission and the United States Securities and Exchanges Commission in March 2021.

    The acquisition will see future titles from Bethesda available through Xbox Game Pass across supporting platforms - including Microsoft’s streaming platform, XCloud.

  • Number 1 - Supercell

    Number 1 - Supercell logo

    Acquirer: Tencent
    Headquarters: Helsinki, Finland
    Date: June 21st, 2016
    Valuation: $10.2 billion

    Supercell is a Finnish mobile games developer founded in 2010 and based in Helsinki. The studio is best known for Clash of Clans, Hay Day and Clash Royale. Supercell maintains additional offices in Tokyo, Shanghai, San Francisco and Seoul.

    In June 2016, a Tencent-fronted consortium acquired an 81.4 per cent stake in Supercell for $10.2 billion. In October 2019, Tencent increased its share from 50 per cent to 51.2 per cent for $40 million, acquiring an additional 44,000 shares.

    Supercell has four games that have each surpassed $1 billion in lifetime gross revenue: Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Hay Day and Brawl Stars.

    The move showed signs of further amalgamation of the games market by Tencent who now own stakes in several of the highest-grossing games studios, such as Epic Games, Sumo Digital and Ubisoft.

    The majority acquisition of Supercell is the largest acquisition of a games company to date.

Staff Writer

Aaron Orr is a freelance writer for PocketGamer.biz with a lifelong interest and passion for the games industry.


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