Activision Blizzard, which built an empire on videogames for consoles and PCs, is buying the maker of the addictive Candy Crush Saga, one of the most popular titles for mobile devices. Activision, the company behind Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, will pay $5.9 billion for King Digital Entertainment. The boards of both companies have approved the deal.
The biggest US videogame maker, Activision aims to capitalize on growing smartphone-based play. Mobile gaming is already the industry’s biggest category, with projected revenue of $36 billion in 2015, according to the companies. That’s projected to grow by more than 50 percent by 2019.
Activision gets popular titles in the deal, but perhaps more important, it gets an emerging-markets audience of players who have not traditionally bought videogame consoles but have been receptive to mobile games, unnamed executives from both companies told the New York Times. It also gets numbers: The two companies’ combined audience exceeds half a billion players around the world. By way of context, that’s more users than Twitter has.
The Activision bid price of $18 is 20 percent below the $22.50 paid by investors in King’s 2014 initial public offering.