Some Hastily Dashed Out Nonsense About Supercell
So, my favourite fremium game developer has been bought, with a 51% share going to a Japanese consortium of telco SoftBank, in for $1.2 billion and Puzzle&Dragon (and far more besides) creators GungHo in for $300 million.
The interesting part of this is that it runs counter to the usual Western narrative of Western companies seeking to break Asia, and looks like Asian companies seeking to break the West. After Gree's brief UK toe-dipping, but moments before the UK release of GungHo's monetisation colossus Puzzle&Dragons, there remain precious few truly global mobile hits, despite the installed user-bases of iOS and Android providing plenty of theoretical opportunity.
GungHo and Supercell have been working together for some time, of course. Clash of Clans characters appear in GungHo’s Puzzle&Dragons and Clash of Clans has been given a very well executed Japanese translation.
That said, it’s hard to see what exactly Supercell needs the money for. The company is already bringing in over $400 million a year, have taken only $170 million in venture capital (for around a 20% stake) and seem from the outside to be going from strength to strength. Admittedly, to really capitalise on the success of its two big games, it needs to have many more hits, over many more years, but mobile development is really not that expensive. Nor is acquisition, when it comes down to it. For context, the free acquisition King got for Candy Crush Saga from cross-promotion is estimated at around $2million.
So this feels like either a cash grab, or a pivot to a Disney-esque brute-force approach to cement its position. Given Rovio’s relative failure to build on the success of Angry Birds, perhaps Supercell has taken that lesson on-board and want to make hay while the sun shines?
You know, hay. Like Hay Day, yeah?