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.
The gaming hobby of political candidate Colleen Lachowicz has become an issue in a state senate race in New England, US.
Maine Republicans have created a webpage revealing that Democrat candidate Colleen Lachowicz plays an orc rogue in World of Warcraft (WoW).
Colleen Lachowicz’s liking for back-stabbing and poison in WoW raise questions about her “fitness for office”, they claim.
She has hit back saying the attack showed the Republicans were “out of touch”.
The state senate seat known as District 25 in Maine, is currently being contested by Colleen Lachowicz and incumbent Republican Tom Martin. Voting takes place on 6 November.
As part of its campaign efforts, the Republican party in the state created “Colleen’s World” – a website that compiles information about Colleen Lachowicz’s orc rogue Santiaga. An orc is a mythical human-like creature, generally described as fierce and combative.
In a statement that accompanies the webpage, Maine Republicans said playing the game led Colleen Lachowicz to live a “bizarre double life” that raised questions about her ability to represent the state.
The page also detailed some of the comments Colleen Lachowicz has made while talking about her orc rogue, in particular it highlights her affection for Santiaga’s ability to stab things and kill people without suffering a jail sentence.
“These are some very bizarre and offensive comments,” said Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen in a statement.
“They certainly raise questions about Colleen Lachowicz’s maturity and her ability to make serious decisions for the people of Senate District 25.”
The site also lists many of the 400 comments she has posted to left wing political news and discussion site Daily Kos. Maine Republicans have also posted leaflets that reproduce the information on the website.
“I think it’s weird that I’m being targeted for playing online games,” said Colleen Lachowicz in a statement.
“Apparently I’m in good company since there are 183 million other Americans who also enjoy online games.
“Instead of talking about what they’re doing for Maine people, they’re making fun of me for playing video games,” said Colleen Lachowicz.
It is not clear what effect the Republican tactic will have on the state senate race in Maine. However, many messages of support have been left on Colleen Lachowicz’s own webpage with some pledging cash to her campaign.
Gaming researcher Ladan Cockshut said the row revealed how gaming can be seen as a bad thing to do.
“In my work, I’ve spoken with many people who in their regular lives have roles of significant responsibility (as doctors, managers, or educators) but who choose carefully with whom they disclose their gaming activity,” she said.
“And disclosing their gaming activity is often accompanied by a degree of apology or embarrassment.”
But, she added, having a gamer run for office was a “heartening” development.
“This would seem to run contrary to the other stereotypes that we love to assign to gamers: that they are lazy, antisocial people who don’t have a <<real life>>,” she said.
“Maybe this will trigger some dialogue about our perceptions of gamers and the role that games can and should play in modern society.”
US trade sanctions have led game maker Blizzard to cut off access to World of Warcraft (Wow) in Iran.
Blizzard posted a statement to its player-forum site after hundreds of Iranian players said they had lost access to the game.
Access was lost recently, it said, because it had “tightened up its procedures” to comply with sanctions.
This also meant, said Blizzard, that it could not give refunds to players or transfer their accounts.
The problem for Iranians came to light late last week as hundreds of players in the country posted messages to Blizzard’s European Battle.net forums complaining they could no longer access the game.
US trade sanctions have led game maker Blizzard to cut off access to World of Warcraft (Wow) in Iran
Many of those posting messages said they could not connect directly to World of Warcraft but could get access when they used a proxy server outside Iran.
The outpouring of complaints led Blizzard to post a statement explaining what had happened.
The statement said US economic sanctions and trade restrictions meant it could not do business with people living in certain nations. One of which was Iran.
“This week, Blizzard tightened up its procedures to ensure compliance with these laws, and players connecting from the affected nations are restricted from access to Blizzard games and services,” read the statement.
Unfortunately, said Blizzard, the same sanctions meant it could not give refunds to players in Iran or help them move their account elsewhere.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and will happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows,” it added.
Although the block on Wow has been imposed by Blizzard, other reports suggest a wider government ban might have been imposed.
Players of Wow and other games, including Guild Wars, said when they had tried to log in they had been redirected to a page saying the connection had been blocked because the games promoted “superstition and mythology”.
Blizzard said it had no information about Iranian government action against online games.