Deals Digest: July 2023's biggest deals at a glance

From Tencent’s acquisition spree to the latest moves in Web3, here are this month's biggest deals from around the mobile games world

Deals Digest: July 2023's biggest deals at a glance

As the most profitable sector of the most profitable branch of the entertainment industry, mobile is a platform filled with successful businesses making deals, closing acquisitions, and announcing mergers every week. From the acquisition of smaller studios to partnerships and investments in emerging technologies, mobile is at the forefront of gaming, and the preferred platform for millions of consumers worldwide.

So, as the month draws to a close, which companies cashed in and who speculated to accumulate in July?

Here’s a handy recap of the month’s biggest and most interesting deals and developments.

Tencent’s acquisition spree

As one of the world’s biggest mobile game makers, Tencent’s moves within the industry are always bound to attract attention, and July saw the company make several acquisitions.

July 14 saw the company’s subsidiary Lightspeed Studios acquire Liverpool-based developer Lucid Games, best known for the PS5 vehicular combat game Destruction AllStars. This was followed by Dying Light developer Techland on July 24.

July 28 saw the company make its final acquisition of the month, Japanese visual novel company Visual Arts.

All three of these acquisitions have seen Tencent expanding its interest outside of its traditional mobile focus to open up fresh revenue streams.

NetEase partners with payment provider Checkout.com

NetEase announced its latest partnership on July 27, this time with payment provider Checkout.com, which will help with payments in international markets, including acquiring for international credit card networks and creating new payment pages within NetEase’s titles themselves. Through the partnership, Checkout.com aims to address challenges such as fraud prevention and fragmented payment methods.

With NetEase looking to expand beyond China to work around prospective legislative changes in the future, Checkout.com may prove to be a vital partner for their future business goals.

Valhalla Ventures launches $66 million fund for gaming investment

Valhalla Ventures has launched a new venture capital fund, and is seeking out “audacious entrepreneurs” to receive investments of $1 to $2 million. Since its foundation, the company has invested in companies such as mobile metaverse platform Bunch, which may give some indication of where the fund may invest in the future.

Kahoot set to go private thanks to $2 billion all-cash private equity deal

Mobile quiz game Kahoot saw an explosion of popularity during the pandemic, as education establishments worldwide went online. Kahoot quickly became a centrepiece of many classrooms, bringing the title to wider attention.

However, the company saw its share price fall by half in September 2021, and General Atlantic purchased a 15% stake from shareholder SB Northstar. While this may have seemed like a bad sign for the company’s future success, the $2 billion investment by General Atlantic and Goldman Sachs proves that investors still have confidence in Kahoot, while at the same time indicating that perhaps they belief that the format will remain niche and limited to educational settings.

Sony invests $2 billion in extended reality research

Sony has been making increasing moves into mobile gaming, most recently their partnership with Backbone for their Backbone One peripheral, allowing players to connect their phones to their PlayStations to play.

The announcement of its intent to invest $2 billion into the field of extended reality could point to further development on mobile devices, specifically in terms of AR gaming. After all, the company recently released its latest VR headset, PSVR2, so AR technology seems like a safe bet for the company’s next move - and with the likes of Apple releasing their own AR headsets for mobile and Sony’s own mobile ambitions, a mobile product could easily see the competition between Sony and competitor Microsoft on mobile devices heat up.

Binance Labs commits $15 million to Web3 platform Xterio

Binance Labs has committed $15 million to Web3 games platform Xterio, which aims to bridge the gap between free-to-play and blockchain gaming.

The commitment follows the past strategic partnership between the two companies and will see Xterio expand its development capabilities, integrate artificial intelligence, and launch its blockchain token on Ninance’s BNB chain ecosystem.

“The Xterio ecosystem is expanding faster than ever and bridges free-to-play genres with on-chain gaming enhanced by AI capabilities,” said Yi He, cofounder of Binance and head of Binance Labs, in a statement. “The Xterio core team brings together experienced Web2 professionals with Web3 expertise, we look forward to closely working with them to allow gamers around the world to experience rich on-chain gameplay.”

Hexacore secures $3.5 million in funding round

Polish publisher Hexacore, which specialised in Web3 gaming, has secured $3.5 million in a funding round led by Dubai-based venture capital firm Scalo Technologies, with participation from Xsolla and Estoty. The company will use this influx to drive development of its catalogue of hybrid-monetisation focused titles, as well as its NFTs and efforts in Web3 gaming.

Despite its focus on the world of Web3, Hexacore has also seen great success in the hypercasual market. With Web3 offering up new opportunities for players to take ownership of in-game assets, it’s clear that Hexacore is keen to increase its footprint in the space - and with this fresh investment, it seems that others have confidence in the company’s approach.

Screen Australia invests $3 million into gaming

More and more frequently, government agencies and even media groups which traditionally focus on other aspects of the entertainment industry are turning towards gaming. The sector is the most profitable in the business, and as such governments worldwide are keen to increase their footprints in the space.

Screen Australia’s investment of $3 million into the industry has seen 21 game developers receive an average of $143,000 for their titles, helping them scale. One company, GUCK, received a total of $300,000 for the development of Australian bush-inspired mobile farming title Future Folklore. With mobile being the most accessible platform for consumers and developers alike, expect to see more games release in the coming period thanks to Screen Australia’s investment.

Eyeball Games raised $1.5 million for blockchain pool game

Eyeball Games’ successful pre-seed funding round is particularly notable for one reason - the company’s upcoming title, Eyeball Pool, is being developed by the creators of 8 Ball Pool, one of the biggest mobile pool games in history.

The company will use the $1.5 million to fund the development and release of the game, which will initially be released online before seeing a full mobile rollout in Q1 2024 - and with Ubisoft-backed Digital Asset Fund leading the round alongside White Star Capital, it’s clear that the gaming industry has confidence in Eyeball’s vision.

Staff Writer

Lewis Rees is a journalist, author, and escape room enthusiast based in South Wales. He got his degree in Film and Video from the University of Glamorgan. He's been a gamer all his life.