King Digital Entertainment, the company behind popular Facebook games such as Candy Crush, seems to have decided that being a publicly-traded entity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. King announced late Monday that it is being acquired by Activision Blizzard, the maker of popular console and PC games such as Call of Duty, for $5.9 billion.
The purchase price of $18 a share amounts to a premium of about 16% over the recent closing price for King’s stock (KING)—but it’s about 20% lower than the price at which the company went public 18 months ago. At that point, King was worth about $7 billion.
King’s stock price has been under pressure in part because investors are concerned that it could be a one-hit wonder, or that its games might fade in popularity over time. King has close to 500 million monthly active users, but that number has been declining, and so have the company’s revenues and profits. Candy Crush was first released in 2012 and quickly became one of the most popular Facebook games ever.
Investors’ concerns were likely well placed, since other Facebook and social games have lost their luster in the past. Zynga was once the most dominant game-maker on Facebook, thanks to titles like Farmville, but its popularity—and its share price—faded after the social network changed its algorithm and wasn’t promoting the games as much.
Activision Blizzard said that the acquisition is being driven by its desire to branch out from its focus on PC and console games to mobile and social games. The company’s main franchises, such as Call of Duty and Diablo, are primarily played on PCs or consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation.