February 2, 2022
Earlier this week, Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC, a subsidiary of Sony Group Corporation (Tii:SNE), announced that it agreed to acquire video game developer Bungie, Inc., for approximately $3.6 billion. If approved, the transaction would bring the producer of the popular Halo and Destiny multiplayer games under the umbrella of one of the leading manufacturers of gaming consoles.
The deal caps off a fast-and-furious series of acquisitions in the video game industry. Last month, Take-Two Interactive (Tii:TTWO), the company behind the wildly popular Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption franchises, agreed to acquire mobile game publisher Zynga Inc. (Tii:ZNGA). The approximate $12.7 billion deal will combine the company behind Rockstar Games, 2K, Private Division, and T2 Mobile Games with Zynga’s diverse portfolio of popular game franchises that have been downloaded more than four billion times on mobile devices.
Not to be outdone, Microsoft Corp. (Tii:MSFT) announced a massive deal of its own – the $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc. (Tii:ATVI), the publisher of Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, and Candy Crush Saga. These transactions signal a massive bout of consolidation in the video game industry.
So, which game publishing house will be next to combine with one of the industry giants? Let’s take a look at a few of the remaining players in the field – all of which are potential acquisition targets.
Launched in Japan in 1979 as a manufacturer and distributor of electronic game machines, Capcom Co. Ltd. (Tii:CCOEF) is the gaming house that produced Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Devil May Cry, Monster Hunter, and others. On the financial side, topline numbers look good. Net sales for the nine months ended December 31, 2021, increased 35.9% year-over-year while operating income rose 43.9%. These results are despite the fact that Capcom did not release a new title during the third quarter of the fiscal year. The company attributed the performance to robust sales for Resident Evil Village and Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin and income from catalog titles (games released in prior years that continue to sell).
With a strong portfolio of brands that include EA Sports, FIFA, Battlefield, Apex Legends, The Sims, Madden NFL, Need for Speed, Titanfall, and Plants vs. Zombies, Electronic Arts Inc. (Tii:EA) is coming off the strongest second quarter in company history. In the first six months of the fiscal year, approximately 100 million players played EA Sports’ global football franchise. Apex Legends Season 9 and Season 10 set new marks for the highest active players since Season 1. These engagement levels are translating into revenues and earnings. For its fiscal year ending March 31, 2022, the company expects to generate approximately $6.925 billion in net revenues. By comparison, net revenues totaled $5.629 billion for the prior fiscal year.
Perhaps the most diversified of these gaming companies, Nintendo Co. Ltd. (Tii:NTDOY) has produced successful gaming platforms like the Nintendo Switch and Wii and published the highly popular Mario Brothers, Pokémon, and The Legend of Zelda game franchises. Further, through a partnership with NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corp. (Tii:CMCSA), has a presence in the Universal Studios Japan theme park with other Super Nintendo Worlds under construction in Hollywood, Singapore and Orlando. Making Nintendo a bit more appealing to a potential acquisitor, the company’s shares are trading nearly 18% lower compared to the same point in 2021.
According to Research and Markets, a global provider of insights and analysis, the global gaming industry was worth $173.7 billion in 2020. The firm expects that valuation to reach $314.4 billion by 2026. That kind of growth curve all but guarantees further consolidation – particularly when the largest video game vendor, Tencent Holdings Limited (Tii:TCEHY), has yet to respond to this flurry of buyout activity.