Activision Blizzard Buys Candy Crush Maker for $5.9 Billion
World of Warcraft and Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard is buying King Digital Entertainment, the creator of Candy Crush Saga for $5.9 billion.
Activision Blizzard said the acquisition would make it a global leader in interactive entertainment across mobile, console and PC platforms.
It added the combined company would have more than half a billion monthly active users in 196 countries.
The Call of Duty series is one of the world’s best selling console games, while Candy Crush Saga is among the most popular games on mobile devices.
Video game publishers are switching from the physical sale of games to digital growth as consumers move from consoles to playing on smartphones and tablets.
In a statement, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said: “With a combined global network of more than half a billion monthly active users, our potential to reach audiences around the world on the device of their choosing enables us to deliver great games to even bigger audiences than ever before.”
Bobby Kotick told the Reuters news agency that the company wanted to broaden its reach and appeal to a larger demographic.
He said that 60% of King Digital Entertainment’s players were female, and that no games console or hardware, besides a smartphone, was needed to access its games.
King Digital Entertainment has focused on a business model that allows users to play a game for free, but pay extra for additional features.
The international success of Candy Crush Saga has given it exposure to high growth markets in Asia, such as China, Japan and South Korea.
Activision’s games are played on more expensive video game consoles or computers, with games costing between $30-$60.
King Digital Entertainment, which has its main offices in London and Stockholm, will continue to operate as an independent unit led by chief executive Riccardo Zacconi.
Riccardo Zacconi said: “Since 2003, we have built one of the largest player networks on mobile and Facebook, with 474 million monthly active users in the third quarter 2015.
“We believe that the acquisition will position us very well for the next phase of our company’s evolution.”
Activision Blizzard is offering $18 in cash for each King share, and the deal is expected to boost Activision’s earnings by about 30%.
King Digital Entertainment floated on the New York Stock Exchange in March 2014 with the original share price being offered at $22.50.
It closed in New York at $15.54.
Candy Crush Saga, which was first launched on Facebook and smartphones in 2012, caught the public imagination and still makes up about a third of the company’s revenue.
Even though the company has produced more than 200 games, including the popular Bubble Witch and Farm Heroes, it has yet to repeat the success it found with Candy Crush Saga.
King Digital Entertainment helped boost its number of daily active users with the launch of Candy Crush Soda Saga in late 2014, but there has been a decline in player spending on their number one game.
The deal is expected to be completed by Q2 of 2016, assuming approval from shareholders and regulators.