-Contact Thomas Rasmussen
Even as business at home deteriorates sharply for US-based videogame giant Electronic Arts, it has been quietly – but quickly – using acquisitions to build up its presence in South Korea, a country that has some of the highest broadband penetration rates in the world. In the past year EA has gone from a mere sales presence in Korea to a significant developer and marketing operation, adding about 50 employees there. It has done this by two acquisitions in the past six months. In May the company purchased Hands-On Mobile Korea for $30m to shore up its mobile and casual gaming business. And this month it added J2MSoft, a company with some 55 developers, for an estimated $30m.
If the pickup of J2MSoft represented simply an EA land-grab in a relatively small market, the story would end here. But beyond simple geographic expansion, the purchase indicates a strategy to focus on a quickly growing part of the industry: online gaming. The region is known for these offerings. J2MSoft, for instance, has already launched three successful online games in Asia. We recently profiled the growing interest in casual gaming as a viable business. But the shift to online is just as big, if not bigger.
EA certainly wouldn’t have missed the blockbuster success of the online division at rival Activision Blizzard. That company attributed more than 40% of its $649m revenue in the third quarter to this phenomenon. That was driven by its online game World of Warcraft, which single-handedly took in as much money as all of its properties across the four major videogame consoles. In addition, World of Warcraft‘s subscription-based model has generated billions for Vivendi (which owned Blizzard when it merged with Activision) since it launched four years ago. Along with casual gaming companies, we suspect shopping of online gaming companies will continue to dominate gaming M&A well into 2009.
Select shopping of online gaming companies
Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase