Wooga acquired by Playtika for over $100m

Playtika, the social casino gaming giant, has confirmed that it has acquired Wooga, a Berlin-based casual games development company, for a price reportedly over $100m.

As part of the deal, Playtika will gain 190 new employees as it will be keeping the entirety of the current team, including its head, Jens Begemann, who founded the company in 2009.

Wooga played a vital part in the rise of mobile gaming that has seen the industry’s value reach an estimated $70bn. Playtika has not disclosed the official purchase figure.

Casual games with storylines

Wooga has made a niche for itself by designing casual games, including big brands such as Diamond Dash and Bubble Island. It then attempted to break into the serious gaming sector and took on a number of new hires to that aim, but ended up laying them off to focus on its core strength of casual games, expanding into storyline-based games such as June’s Journey and Pearl’s Peril. The games see players solve puzzles and find hidden objects in order to progress through the plot.

In contrast, Playtika, an Israel-based company, was founded in 2010 by Robert Antokol and Uri Shahak. Its first big success was Slotomania.

After its initial success, the company was bought by Caesars Interactive in 2011 at a valuation of $150m. Slotomania is still a big earner for the company, generating between $20m and $22m a month, according to a recent report by analysis firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.

Playtika released a statement about the acquisition, in which Antokol said: “We see great opportunities for Playtika in the casual games genre and our acquisition of Wooga firmly positions us for this next phase of our evolution. Playtika’s strengths in implementing live operations, advanced AI and performance marketing at scale will serve as a global springboard for Wooga’s creativity in ideating and developing winning story-led titles.

“Together we’ll bring audiences worldwide a whole new level of game experiences that never cease to captivate and amaze. The Wooga team is driven and passionate, has strong leadership, and we’re thrilled to have them join the Playtika family.”

Market leader

Playtika has shot to the top of the social casino games market, where it holds a 28.6% market share. Its third-quarter revenue amounted to $372m according to analysts. The company was acquired for a second time in 2016 by China’s Giant for $4.4bn.

Now its move to acquire Wooga shows a clear will to diversify its gaming portfolio and expand into new genres. Once completed, the deal will result in more than half of Playtika’s titles being casual games.

Back in October 2017, the company completed the acquisition of casual gaming company Jelly Button Games, which has seen a 12-fold increase in revenue since the deal went through. Playtika sees a similar future for Wooga, combining strong storytelling with Playtika’s signature data-driven personalization, live operations and performance marketing.

Begeman said: “This is an amazing day for Wooga. Becoming part of Playtika is opening the next chapter in the history of our company. It is a very natural fit for both parties: we have the expertise in creating and launching story-driven casual games, Playtika has the technologies to help us scale and reach new audiences to continue our growth.”

Playtika has 22m active users and more than 2,000 employees spread over 12 international offices. Wooga said it believes the deal will enable the company’s titles to compete more easily with other games thanks to it being part of a bigger company.

“VCs typically invest for a limited time and would have wanted to sell their shares in the next years. Instead of having that constantly looming over us, it was the right decision to now partner with a new owner that will grow with us.”

The company’s games will remain unchanged despite the deal, but players may see more titles released in the future thanks to the deal.

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