TheGamingEconomy’s Daily Digest brings you the prevalent business stories in gaming. In today’s news: Niantic acquires Mayhem; Westbridge sells INR₹5bn (£50.2m) stake in Nazara Technologies; and Frogwares' The Sinking City returns to stores amid legal dispute with Nacon.
Niantic acquires Mayhem
Augmented reality (AR) studio Niantic has announced the acquisition of video game community platform Mayhem, a fellow San Fransisco-based firm, for an undisclosed sum. According to statements released by the two firms, the "majority" of staff at the acquired firm will be retained within Niantic's Platform Engineering division, with current Mayhem CEO Ivan Zhou joining the Social Platform Product division. Though Niantic has been active in the M&A market over the previous twelve months, most of its prior acquisitions catered towards its traditional focus of AR, for instance the purchase of 6D.ai in April, making this a notable departure for the firm. Mayhem was founded in 2017, initially operating as an esports training platform, and has been funded to the tune of USD$5.7m (£4.2m).
Niantic CEO John Hanke commented, "Mayhem was founded in 2017 with the goal of bringing gamers together through live, interactive experiences. They built a successful online platform for gamers to self-organise custom game formats for their communities, and it’s their innovative leadership in this space that will accelerate the work we’re doing to inspire people to explore the world together. Real-world social interaction, as encouraged by fun gameplay as well as social features that build bonds between people across the globe, is critical to our mission and, alongside Mayhem, we have some exciting opportunities ahead of us."
Westbridge sells INR₹5bn (£50.2m) stake in Nazara Technologies
Westbridge Capital has exited video games and sports media company Nazara Technologies, ahead of the latter's long-mooted IPO, by selling its remaining INR₹5bn (£50.2m) stake in the company to Ahmedabad-based Plutus Wealth Management. The investment management firm initially supported Nazara in 2005 to the tune of ₹226m (£2.27m), giving a return of approximately INR₹10bn (£100m), which was partially divested in 2017. While Nazara received approval for an initial public offering in 2018 and stated in November that listing proceedings were shortly due to follow, the firm instead focused on bolstering its portfolio in 2020, acquiring majority stakes in Halaplay Technologies (INR₹146m/£1.47m) and Paper Boat Apps (INR₹830m/£8.34m) in June and July respectively.
Plutus Wealth Management Managing Partner Arpit Khandelwal commented, “We believe gaming will be a prominent form of entertainment and will do well in the next decade. We believe that Nazara is well-placed to leverage on the vast available opportunity."
Frogwares' The Sinking City returns to stores amid legal dispute with Nacon
The Sinking City, an action horror title developed by Frogwares and published by Nacon (formerly Big Ben Interactive), has returned to online storefronts amid an ongoing legal dispute between the two firms. The return of the game follows a ruling by the Paris Court of Appeal on 28th October 2020 in favour of Nacon, which determined that Frogwares terminated the contract for The Sinking City in a "manifestly unlawful" manner. As previously reported in TheGamingEconomy, Kyiv-based Frogwares initially pulled the game from multiple storefronts in August last year, claiming Nacon withheld profits and development milestone payments, along with demanding the source code for the title upon acquiring a developer, believed to be Cyanide, working on a similar IP.
A statement released by Nacon reads, "Confirmed in its expectations by this decision and regardless of the time needed to resolve this dispute definitively, NACON is continuing its action in defence of its rights and has proceeded with the execution of this court decision by asking platforms and sites to put The Sinking City game back online so that no one is held hostage to this situation. It is however specified that insofar as some of the game's online stakes depend on the goodwill of Frogwares to perform, their absence cannot be attributed to NACON."