‘Candy Crush’ Now Belongs to Activision
Activision Blizzard (ATVI), which was already a leader in the console gaming space, is now officially one of the largest mobile game makers as well.
The video game publisher’s $5.9 billion purchase of Candy Crush maker King Digital Entertainment has been completed, which Activision says makes it the largest game network in the world—and it’s eager to expand that empire.
“We now reach over 500 million users across almost every country, making us the largest game network in the world,” Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said in a statement. “We see great opportunities to create new ways for audiences to experience their favorite franchises, from Candy Crush to World of Warcraft to Call of Duty and more, across mobile devices, consoles and personal computers.”
With the deal (announced last November) now complete, Activision has shored up one of its chief areas of weakness. Despite having an incredibly strong library of console franchises, the company was a latecomer to the mobile space. And mobile games have become an increasingly large part of the overall industry. (In the 12 months ending September 2015, mobile games accounted for 19 percent of the total dollars spend on video game software, according to The NPD Group.)
The $18 per share purchase price represents a 20% premium over King’s closing price on Oct. 30, but still $4.50 per share lower than its IPO price. King will operate as an independent unit—and its senior executives have signed long-term employment contracts.
For more on the Candy Crush deal, watch:
The original Candy Crush Saga is still the fifth-highest-grossing game in the Apple app store three years after its release. And its follow-up, Candy Crush Soda, while not as successful as its predecessor, is at No. 11 more than one year after its release.
The King acquisition allows Activision to focus on building its mobile talent internally, rather than relying on external companies, like its partner Tencent (TCEHY), which has worked with the company in China.
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It’s the third new area of focus for Activision since the company’s 2013 separation from Vivendi (VIVEF). A month prior to announcing the King deal, Activision announced plans to launch an eSports division headed by Steve Bornstein, the former CEO of ESPN and NFL Network. And almost immediately after unveiling plans to buy King, it announced a film and TV division.
With both deals now done, investors are likely hoping the company’s focus will return to earnings, which yielded a rare miss in the company’s most recent fiscal quarter. Both revenues and earnings per share came in below analyst expectations, the company’s first revenue guidance miss in 10 years.