Take-Two to Purchase Mobile Gamer Zynga for $12.7 Billion

New York-based Take-Two Interactive has agreed to buy social game developer Zynga in a deal valued at $12.7 billion in cash and stock. The move is seen as a bid by the company behind “Grand Theft Auto” and “NBA 2K” to boost its mobile portfolio with Zynga assets like “Words With Friends” and “FarmVille.” Take-Two described the acquisition as a “clear path to bring Take-Two’s console/PC games to mobile,” a category the company’s CEO Strauss Zelnick said on an investor call this week holds “tremendous untapped potential,” citing “Zynga’s leading development, publishing, and live operations teams.”

Zelnick told The Wall Street Journal that Take-Two’s research indicates “mobile is the fastest-growing segment of the global video game industry in recent years,” stating “more than 50 percent of our net bookings will come from mobile upon closing this transaction.”

Take-Two’s mobile expansion over the past few years has included the purchases of development studios Playdots, Nordeus and Socialpoint. Zynga began developing games for Facebook and later transitioned to mobile. According to WSJ, Take-Two “admires Zynga’s free-to-play business model, which lets players download games free but with the option to spend money on virtual goods.”

“Zynga will be the new brand for Take-Two’s mobile efforts,” reports The Verge, noting current Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau will spearhead the initiative. Big franchises have been porting to mobile “and earning a lot of money doing so.”

“Pokémon Go,” for example, from San Francisco-based Niantic, “brought in more than $5 billion in revenue as of its five-year birthday in July,” according to The Verge, which points out that “some of the biggest publishers have been buying their way into the [mobile] space for years, with Activision Blizzard buying ‘Candy Crush’ maker King for $5.9 billion in 2015 and Electronic Arts buying ‘Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ developer Glu and ‘Golf Clash’ maker Playdemic in 2021.”

The deal represents “about a 64 percent premium to Zynga’s stock price of $6 as of Friday’s close,” WSJ reports, noting Zynga shares rose 41 percent (to $8.44) on the news, while Take-Two fell 13 percent to $142.99. The purchase is subject to a greenlight by shareholders from both companies as well as regulatory approval.

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