King of cashing out, Blizzard matches three, sets fire to $5.9b

Blizzard buying King is really a match made in heaven. What’s Blizzard famous for? Taking a game, cloning it, and putting the Blizzard polish on it. Not familiar with King? Some light reading for you via Forbes about all of the games King has produced so far. The cloning factory just got a little bigger, and a little more mobile.

That aspect aside, the deal really makes zero sense for Blizzard, and is a great cash out for King. In addition to being a one-hit wonder (Candy Crush), King is also trending downwards, because while match-three is a near-timeless game/concept, the mega hype and mega spending around Candy Crush is dropping, not increasing. And while it could happen, the short history of King suggests that Candy Crush was their peak, and they have basically nothing else of real value. The odds are very low that their next game is a smash hit, especially in the cutthroat mobile arena that itself may be approaching its own peak (you can only hook and fool so many whales before they become a unicorn).

I think it’s far more likely that in a few years, King is closer to what Zynga is today (a basically-dead afterthought and industry joke) than a solid, major contributor to the Blizzard brand. I think it’s already too late to release a Warcraft themed match-three, that ship has sailed, and King doesn’t bring a solid core of good mobile gameplay experience like a Supercell would to produce something new and top-notch. (Imagine a Warcraft-themed Clash of Clans? That would print money and be an acquisition that would make more sense, though the purchase price is likely far outside what Blizzard is able to afford)

This seems like a diversification panic move to me, perhaps fueled by the very lukewarm reception to Hearthstone in the mobile space, and I don’t see how it ends well. That 5.9b isn’t money well spent. If anything, the question is how much of that 5.9b is already in the money pit, burning up into smoke?

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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8 Responses to King of cashing out, Blizzard matches three, sets fire to $5.9b

  1. To re-iterate a comment I made elsewhere, King is literally Zynga done right.

    Shiny, popular game stolen from somebody else lets them ride to fame and riches, but none of their follow-on games come close to the original, so they cash out where Zynga held out, trying to make another winner. Zynga thought they were smart, while King knows they were lucky.

    And it appears to be literally a cash transaction, with Activision buying all outstanding shares as opposed to doing some sort of cash swap.

  2. On the other hand, King had adjusted revenues of $2.1 billion over the last 12 months, and netted over half a billion, so it is possible that Activision could get their money out of this if they don’t hose it up. Acti-Blizz itself made 4.7 billion in revenue over the same period, with 1.1 billion in net.

  3. Jenks says:

    It would be badass as hell if you could actually hang out in an inn in WoW and play Hearthstone and Candy Crush with other people, and those are two games I don’t have any interest in trying “in real life.” The WoW team just doesn’t give a single shit about anyone but achievers.

    These deals are all about brand, and I feel like the Minecraft brand has a fuckton more potential than the Candy Crush brand. This $6b deal is retroactively making MS’s $2.5b deal look genius in my eyes.

  4. Pingback: WoW Subscriptions Stable at 5.5 Million, Activision Buys Candy Crush Saga | The Ancient Gaming Noob

  5. Gman says:

    While I agree more or less with the point of this post, aren’t you confusing “Blizzard” with “Activision Blizzard”? I mean, the King games will be no more Blizzard than Call of Duty is.

  6. Pingback: King + Blizzard: A Perfect Match | Me Vs. Myself and I

  7. tithian says:

    I get the feeling that they didn’t buy King for its existing titles, but rather for its reach into the mobile market. For example, imagine if they would use the new studio to create a CoC clone with Warcraft lore and Alliance vs. Horde gameplay.

    • SynCaine says:

      That would make sense if they bought someone with solid game dev skills, but they didn’t. I mean, you wouldn’t buy Zynga and state “now we have the ability to make top-quality games”, right?

      King isn’t successful because they made great games, they are successful because rather than sell Peggle for $5, they allowed people to spend hundreds or thousands to play Peggle further than their abilities would normally allow. It’s impressive in a circus-showman way, but it has nothing to do with being able to create a to-shelf, CoC-like mobile game.

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