The game merger and acquisition craze is still hot in 2012 thanks to the rapid growth in the number and size of game deals this year.
Two big deals signal the shift that is happening this year toward mobile and cloud gaming. Zynga bought OMGPOP for at least $180 million as it sought to capture the benefits of the fast-growing mobile gaming title Draw Something. And Sony gave a big endorsement to cloud gaming with its $380 million acquisition of Gaikai.
In 2011, Zynga was among the top three in all of tech in terms of the number of companies acquired — 13.
In Asia this year, where lots of game companies have gone public and are flush with cash. NetEase has the most cash with $2.2 billion in cash. Tencent has $1.25 billion. Shanda Interactive has $1.2 billion. Ren Ren has $1.05 billion. Others with a lot of cash include Sohu, Shanda Gaming, cYou, Perfect World, Giant Interactive, KongZhong, The9, and Taomee.
Game M&A deals totaled $3.5 billion in 2011, compared to less than $1.5 billion in 2010. Seven major game companies (Zynga, Gree, WeMade, Tencent, IGT, Rovio, and Nexon) acquired 21 companies in the first half of 2012. As you can see in the chart below, online games were the hottest category for game acquisitions, accounting for 71.5 percent of deals in 2011, compared to just 43.2 percent of deals in 2010.
Mobile games would account for the bulk of game-related M&A deals in 2013. Mobile is expected to account for 42 percent of all deals in gaming in 2013, while online will account for 39 percent. Soltys noted that smartphone penetration of the U.S. population is now at 50 percent. Ten percent of U.S. households now have three or more iPads. iPad and overall mobile data usage is up dramatically.