2019: The Year Of Acquisitions
Consolidation happens all the time in business, and the video game industry is no different. In 2019, there were a number of high-profile studio acquisitions as companies looked to expand into new categories and markets through buyouts. Below is a collection of the more notable acquisitions of 2019.
Though, if the end of the year has you thinking about some of the best games, then be on the lookout for GameSpot's Best of 2019 awards is nearly on the horizon. For a look into how we decide what qualifies as the best this year, be sure to watch our entertaining explainer video detailing our verdict process.
Which studio acquisition surprised you the most this year? Let us know in the comments below.
Sony Buys Insomniac
Following the huge critical and commercial success of Marvel's Spider-Man for PS4, Sony announced it was acquiring Insomniac; terms of the deal were not disclosed. The buyout is a big win for Sony, as Spider-Man was a success on all fronts and the company will look to continue the momentum with whatever it makes next, whether that be a sequel or something new. Insomniac worked closely with Sony years ago for the Spyro, Ratchet & Clank, and Resistance franchises, but more recently, the company was a gun-for-hire. The studio released Xbox-exclusive Sunset Overdrive before signing with Sony for Spider-Man.
THQ Nordic Buys Warhorse
THQ Nordic, the Vienna-based publisher of games like Darksiders and Saints Row, dipped into its warchest and paid €33.2 million ($53.9 million) to buy Kingdom Come: Deliverance studio Warhorse. The Prague-based outfit is headed up by Daniel Vavra, the co-creator of the Mafia franchise. THQ Nordic also splashed out to snap up Darksiders developer Gunfire Games and Gothic developer Piranha Bytes in 2019. THQ Nordic says it has more than 80 games in development across all of its studios.
Epic Buys Psyonix
No doubt fueled by the recent cash flow provided by Fortnite, Epic Games bought Psyonix, the California-based developer best known for its his soccer-with-cars game Rocket League. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but Pysonix says it will continue to operate independently, with the money from Epic helping to bolster the Rocket League esports scene. Rocket League is showing no signs of slowing down
Sega buys Two Point
Sonic company Sega added another studio to its roster this year with the acquisition of Two Point Studios, the UK-based developer behind the popular business simulation game Two Point Hospital. It was the debut game from the team, which is made up of people who worked at Fable developer Lionhead earlier in their careers.
Microsoft Buys Double Fine
Microsoft's buying spree continued in 2019 when the Xbox company snapped up Brutal Legend and Psychonauts developer Double Fine for an undisclosed sum. Double Fine's founder and president Tim Schafer joked about the acquisition by saying it was all about the money, which is pretty on-brand for the executive known for his humor and quirkiness. More seriously, Schafer said the acquisition is beneficial to Double Fine because it means the company no longer has to chase the next publishing deal, which can be an intense and exhausting experience that takes time and attention away from actually making games. Double Fine operated a publishing division, but that seems to be winding down, with publishing executive Greg Rice recently leaving the company.
Ubisoft Buys Green Panda Games
In July, Assassin's Creed publisher Ubisoft scooped up the French studio Green Panda Games by acquiring 70 percent of the "hyper-casual" company's outstanding shares to give it majority ownership. Green Panda, which has 30 employees, created and published mobile game like Sushi Bar, Terrarium, Emoji Craft, and Golf Inc. Tycoon. The company says its games have reached 85 million people worldwide, and that is no doubt part of the reason why Ubisoft wanted to bring it on board. This was just the latest move from Ubisoft to invest further into mobile games. In 2016, the company acquired mobile/social game studio Ketchapp, while Ubisoft also operates an internal mobile game business; one of its biggest and best-known franchises is Hungry Shark.
Bethesda Buys Alpha Dog
Bethesda, the publisher of Fallout and Elder Scrolls, saw huge success with its mobile game Fallout Shelter, and the company is ramping up to expand its mobile offerings. In October, Bethesda acquired the mobile game studio Alpha Dog Games, which developed the action-RPG Wraithborne and the action-strategy game MonstroCity: Rampage. Alpha Dog will make new games for iOS and Android. Bethesda remains committed to PC and console games--Elder Scrolls 6 is on the way--but it is also clear that mobile is a major area of focus for the company as well going forward.
Facebook Buys Beat Games
Social networking giant Facebook expanded its VR ambitions even further in November when it acquired Beat Saber studio Beat Games. The Prague-based company becomes an Oculus Studios developer that will continue to operate independently. The studio will support its flagship VR game Beat Saber across all platforms, but now "with even more support from Facebook."
Codemasters Buys Slightly Mad
The UK developer Codemasters acquired racing game studio Slightly Mad in November. Slightly Mad is best known for the racing games Need for Speed Shift and its sequel Shift 2: Unleashed, and more recently the Project Cars franchise. This acquisition expands the racing game portfolio for Codemasters even further, as the company already owns and develops racing games like Dirt, Grid, and Formula 1. In a statement, Codemasters boss Frank Sagnier said this is the right time to add another studio to its portfolio with the PS5 and Scarlett coming in 2020 and streaming services like Stadia, PlayStation Now, and xCloud beginning to take off.