M&A in the Games Industry 2020

Agnitio Capital’s year in review

Check out those games, games, games…

Games M&A in 2020

Mamma mia – here we go again…

As you can see, this year was all about those Swedes. Of the transactions listed above, the overwhelming majority of them went to publicly traded Swedish companies. Throughout most of the year it was looking like 2020 was going to belong to Embracer Group, which had been particularly dominant (announcing thirteen deals in a single day in November, including A Thinking Ape, which Agnitio advised on – more on that later). Then, right as everyone was getting ready to swap pro-forma spreadsheets for port and mince pies, EG7 pulled an early December blast from out of nowhere, snaffling up $375 million worth of transactions, first with Piranha Games, then soon after with Daybreak Games.

Taking Xbox Game Pass to the zeniMAX!

Everything else

Outside of the publicly traded club, scaled private companies had a bit of a party in 2020. Scopely entered the fray, first with FoxNext and then Genera Games (on which Agnitio Capital was the advisor). Both deals cement Scopely’s footing in growing genres and add considerable weight to its balance sheet.

Agnitio Capital’s break out year

If you haven’t already twigged, everything up to this point was just a distended pre-amble in order to justify some brazen self-promotion. I mean who really cares about Zenimax anyway, a company that sounds like it was named after a sleeping pill? I’ve gone too far, but if you are still reading this, it is too late to turn back. Agnitio Capital was proudly the sell-side advisor on the following deals.

Candywriter

When Agnitio Capital agreed to represent Candywriter, the company was just six people. Agnitio Capital spent more than two years advising founders Kevin and Nadir, during which time, Bitlife grew quickly while the team grew steadily. By the time Stillfront signed on the dotted line, the team was 13 strong. Agnitio also assisted the guys in finding an accountant that possessed significant games industry expertise to ensure they observed IFRS accounting standards. We also introduced them to a leading UA agency throughout that time, which completely took over all user acquisition efforts. In many ways, we functioned a bit more like an active VC or non-exec in the period prior to the sale process. Candywriter is a great example of a team that Agnitio decided to back early, seeing a long-term opportunity to help them achieve a life-changing exit.

Deca Games

Deca is another group that Agnitio worked with over the long term. Ken Go built a business that turns the almost toxic level of abundance in the product marketplace into a leverage point, taking on legacy titles that have often been neglected and rejuvenating them as going concerns. It’s clear that Deca will be a strategic multiplier on a number of Embracer’s portfolio companies as it continues to bring more exciting studios into the family. In fact that is exactly what happened with A Thinking Ape.

Genera Games

In a category like puzzle, where there is no shortage of entrants but few products that can truly match a Playrix or Tactile title for quality, Tuscany Villa was a singular opportunity. Agnitio Capital evaluated that game as the highest fidelity product in that category we had yet seen, vindicated by fast scaling metrics. The market agreed and following an agreement for Agnitio to represent Genera, the right buyer came along quickly giving Scopely its second coup of the year.

A Thinking Ape

All of Agnitio’s deals are special but for founder, MD and Canadian native Shum, closing the firm’s first Canadian deal was particularly memorable. A Thinking Ape grabbed Embracer’s attention, in no small part due to a record 2020 in terms of revenue and profitability. With a strong portfolio and bright prospects for future titles, it’s hard to imagine 2021 being any different.

And another thing…

Agnitio Capital participated in Hutch’s initial seed round of funding in February 2013 as part of the angel syndicate, right at the start of their journey when the company was valued in the single digit millions of dollars. Given the growth that has occurred since then, the total deal value they achieved ($275 million upfront with $100 million in earnouts) and the fact that they sold to our good friends over at MTG, Agnitio Capital is one very happy former shareholder. The team’s best days are definitely yet to come.

What we are bullish on…

I spend a huge amount of time talking to games developers every week. Over the last year, while managing the disruption of COVID and adjusting to new work-from-home set-ups, it seems to have put a lot of the developers in my network into a reflective mood. The M&A space is shifting in step with consumer appetites and the ways developers are moving to accommodate them.

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