Swedish game studio buys Victoria’s Kixeye, deal worth up to $120m

Kixeye's products include Battle Pirates, which new owner Stillfront says is the top-grossing game on Facebook | Photo: kixeye.com

In a deal that could be worth up to $120 million US, Sweden-based game software studio Stillfront has purchased Victoria-based game developer Kixeye.

The deal, which makes Victoria the centre of the Kixeye world with additional development centres in the U.S., Vietnam and Australia will see the company’s key employees and management team remain with the company.

That includes Kixeye president and Victoria native Clayton Stark.

Stark, who left rival Zynga to join Kixeye when the company moved to Victoria in 2012, could not comment on the deal Tuesday.

But in a statement from Stillfront, Stark said he was excited about the merger.

“Combining portfolios and leveraging our knowledge in live ops execution and innovative monetization will be a great formula for success,” he said.

Stillfront describes itself as a global conglomerate of gaming studios focused on free-to-play online strategy games.

The company has been looking to add to its portfolio of studios, which includes Imperia Online, Dorado Games and Playa Games. But despite evaluating more than 1,200 companies, it has closed only 11 acquisitions over the last nine years.

“Kixeye fits perfectly into Stillfront’s growth strategy by broadening our portfolio of studios and games with characteristics that drive long-term gamer relations,” chief executive Jörgen Larsson said. “Kixeye are pioneers in free-to-play gaming and have a very strong track record in developing blockbuster [intellectual property].”

Kixeye was founded in 2009 and is currently owned by founders Will Harbin, Paul Preece and Dave Scott, venture capital investors and current and former employees.

The purchase price includes $90 million US in cash, and as much as another $30 million US if Kixeye reaches certain financial targets in 2019.

Kixeye’s products include Battle Pirates, War Commander, Vega Conflict and War Commander: Rogue Assault.

According to Stillfront, Battle Pirates is the top-grossing game on Facebook, and Kixeye generated a profit of $13.5 million US in the first quarter of this year.

It is expected the sale will be completed by July 1.

Times Colonist