In a huge move, Activision Blizzard has agreed to purchase King Digital Entertainment, a $5.9 billion. Activision has long ruled as a major video game publisher. Among the company’s notable games are the Tony Hawk series, Call of Duty franchise, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance (if you haven’t played MUA, it’s one of the best RPGs available). King Digital Entertainment created Candy Crush Saga, a mobile game since its inception has dominated app stores.
Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said, “We continue to benefitfrom our focus on creating the world’s best interactive entertainment. Our incredibly talentedemployees around the world once again delivered great content and strong financial results. Mobilegaming is the largest and fastest-growing opportunity for interactive entertainment and we will haveone of the world’s most successful mobile game companies and its talented teams providing greatcontent to new customers, in new geographies throughout the world. King has a truly fantasticmanagement team and over 1,600 incredibly talented employees and we are excited to welcome theminto the Activision Blizzard family.”
The puzzle title Candy Crush Saga first emerged in 2012 from King, eventually being ported to Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows 10 in 2014. It’s blossomed into popularity, and presented the freemium model as a viable app monetization means. Joining forces with Activision Blizzard comes with massive implications. The deal combines two companies who have independently dominated their respective environments: King on the mobile landscape, Activision on consoles and PCs.
Cross-platform compatibility is one of game development’s hottest trends. With each new update from Epic Games, Unity, Havok, Crytek, etc., means increased support for a range of devices. Thus acquiring King Digital seems logical, as Activision Blizzard seeks to further expand its mobile reach. Blizzard released Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft on iOS and Android in addition to Windows and OS X in 2014.
Overall, the acquisition proves one of the more unusual acquisitions in the gaming world. The sheer amount of money is over twice what Microsoft paid when purchasing Mojang in 2014. Furthermore, Activision and King have until this point been publishing completely different games. While King Digital cornered the market on casual games, Activision focused on hardcore releases like Call of Duty and Diablo.
The mobile landscape continually provides a fascinating evolution, appealing to both casual players and seasoned gamers. It serves as a stepping stone, allowing anyone with a phone or tablet to download a F2P title and familiarize themself with gaming. Phones and tablets typically aren’t as intimidating as being handed a controller, or keyboard and mouse. Accordingly, the mobile space embodies a different demographic than traditional console and PC demographics, therefore bridging the gap in target audience. Mobile games often serve as a gateway drug into the video game world, allowing players to acclimate, starting with casual titles such as Candy Crush and progressing to Call of Duty. Ultimately, acquiring King has the potential to expand Activision Blizzard’s current user base, and further delve into the world of mobile games.