85% of acquired mobile game studios self-published their titles – research

85% of mobile game studios that were acquired between March 2021 and February 2022 self-published their own titles instead of working with a game publisher, and the remaining 15% were publishers of other studios, according to new data from Pollen VC.

The study excludes acquisitions above $1 billion, including those of Zynga, Moonton, SpinX Games, Glu Mobile, Playdemic, and GSN Games.  

The post-IDFA environment has accelerated the trend we’ve seen over the years – shifting from a distribution-centric to an original IP-centric M&A focus,’’ said Stanislav Rudoi, Pollen VC’s VP of Growth & Analytics. ‘’Strong player affinity towards a particular studio’s games makes a self-published studio acquisition more valuable both in terms of IP itself and player base”, he added.

The typical 60% – 40% revenue split, which is usually favourable to game publishers when user acquisition expenses are taken into consideration, could be the reason behind the downward trend in publisher partnerships. 

In addition, Vollen PC notes that having skills to self-publish titles could provide game studios a significant advantage if they want to be acquired.

Pollen VC CEO Martin Macmillan commented: “Gaming studios are increasingly finding the economics of mobile game VC publishing deals unpalatable. Our analysis of the M&A data makes it clear that studios that have the ambition to ultimately be acquired need to either develop skills in-house to self-publish or work with third parties to buy in components required for them to publish their own games in their own name successfully.’’

Written by Jordan Bevan


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