Big Blue Bubble is planning an aggressive expansion into console games, and having a large business partner along for the ride will make that move easier, its founder and chief executive said Friday.
That the gaming business can get such support while remaining largely autonomous, and staying in London, is that much sweeter, added Damir Slogar.
“We are switching things. We are going from mobile to console games and the development cycles are much longer. It takes much more investment,” said Slogar.
“It takes someone who has deeper pockets, who is bigger. That is much more helpful.”
Big Blue Bubble, a London gaming success story, has come to an agreement to sell the business to a Swedish company in a deal that could total $76 million in value.
The maker of more than 100 free, app-based games, including My Singing Monsters, has been bought by EG7 of Stockholm for $16 million in cash and up to $60 million in additional cash and shares in EG7, stated an announcement on EG7’s website.
Slogar made the move to sell the business because EG7 has marketing, advertising and publishing divisions, as well as more experience in console game development, that will help Big Blue create and market games globally, he added.
“This will help us move forward. It is strategic. There are a lot of components to be successful, such as marketing and publishing,” as well as creating games.
Big Blue Bubble, a #ldnont gaming success story, has come to an agreement to sell the business to a Swedish company in a deal that could total $76-million. https://t.co/dWU3y3QAXt pic.twitter.com/BOwNykjaSy— London Free Press (@LFPress) August 27, 2020
When considering the sale, Slogar saw how other game businesses EG7 bought have remained independent.
“We will continue as an independent studio and share our numbers. It was not that hard a decision, especially when you find someone you are excited to work with,” he said.
“It is an exciting time for us. It allows us to be able to do things we could not do before. In gaming, you buy a culture. Why would they tamper with that when things are going well?”
Big Blue is planning to launch its next console game,
in October and another, Concert Kings Idle Music Tycoon, for 2021, he said.
From 2006 to 2012, Big Blue Bubble did create console and PC games but has focused on app-based games the last eight years.
“We will not be abandoning mobile games, but consoles are where we want to be in the future,” said Slogar.
In its 16-year history Big Blue Bubble has generated more than $100-million in sales and in the 12-month period ending in June, had net sales of $12 million.
The looming sale is the latest in a series of transactions in the London technology scene, as fellow game maker Digital Extremes was sold in 2015 to a Chinese company, software developer Race Roster was bought by Asics in December, software maker InnoSoft was purchased by Constellation Software in 2017 and Carproof was snapped up by IHS Inc. in 2015, to name a few transactions.
“We know London has built a solid reputation in the gaming sector. Fanshawe College and Western University have created a talent pool that helps make London attractive” for gaming industries, said Kapil Lakhotia, chief executive of the London Economic Development Corp.
“It means investors are looking at London, we have businesses here that are successful. It creates a growing eco-system for technology companies.”
Fanshawe has been working closely with gaming and other technology businesses to determine what skills they need from workers, and is tailoring its programs to meet demand, said Michelle Giroux, associate dean of the school of digital and performing arts.
The school has graduated 120 from its game design program over four years and demand is so strong it has expanded enrollment to 300 this year.
“We work with companies and gear curriculum to them so graduates have the right skill set. We meet every year with companies and make adjustments if needed,” said Giroux.
The school boasts strong placement of its graduates among London technology businesses, she added.
In announcing the acquisition on its website, EG7 stated it wanted to buy Big Blue Bubble to better diversify its holdings.
Big Blue Bubble has an office in San Francisco as well as London, in the Bell building on Dundas Street downtown. It has been “a top grosser” in the free-to-play game sector for five years, stated EG7.
The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
The buyer’s full name is Enad Global 7 and it describes itself as a “family of companies” in the gaming industry that develops and sells PC, console and mobile games, according to company information on its website. It also consults for other gaming businesses globally.
It is headquartered in Stockholm with 200 employees and has eight offices worldwide, with 1,500 gaming titles. Among the businesses it now owns, Big Blue Bubble will join Toadman Studios in Sweden and Antimatter Games and SoldOut in the U.K. It also owns an advertising marketing business, Petrol Advertising, working in the gaming sector.
London’s gaming sector:
About 600 employees and several individuals and freelancers About 20 companies The big players, with 10 or more employees: Digital Extremes, Big Blue Bubble, Big Viking Games, Mikutech and Tiny Titan Studio Fanshawe College has a game design program at its downtown campus Western University has a specialization in video game development