Top 10 Most Expensive Video Game Buyouts Of All Time
Many mature industries trend toward consolidation as time goes on, and the video game business is no different. Big companies are bought and sold for massive sums of money. This was made evident yet again recently when Sega splashed out $776 million to acquire Angry Birds developer Rovio, which was the second high-profile deal in 2023, following Savvy Games Group paying $4.9 billion to acquire mobile and social game developer Scopely. But what are the biggest of the big buyouts? Here in this post, we're rounding up the top 10 most expensive video game acquisitions of all time, a list that's topped by Microsoft's pending $68.7 billion bid to buy Activision Blizzard in what is far and away the biggest gaming deal in history. It's also one of the biggest acquisitions–across all markets from oil and energy to technology.
Microsoft actually makes the list three times, the most of any single company, spending around $79.3 billion on video game buyouts since 2014 (a sum that includes the proposed deal for Activision Blizzard). Another trend is many of the biggest deals are focused on mobile titles. Companies like Take-Two, EA, and Tencent snapped up established mobile game studios to help give them a bigger piece of the pie as it relates to potential earning possibilities, and Microsoft has cited mobile as a big motivating factor behind its attempted Activision Blizzard acquisition.
10: EA - Glu Mobile – $2.4 billion (2021)
The 10th biggest acquisition in the history of video games came in 2021 when Electronic Arts splashed out $2.4 billion to acquire Glu Mobile, the developer of many mobile titles. One of its marquee games is Kim Kardashian's mobile game, but the company's roster includes a range of others, such as Disney Sorcerer's Arena, Diner Dash Adventures, and Deer Hunter. Similar to why Activision Blizzard bought King and why Take-Two bought Zynga, EA purchased Glu to help advance and accelerate its position in the mobile game market. EA bought Glu to make more money from microtransactions and live services, and because mobile is, simply put, a gigantic market and big-time revenue-driver.
9: Microsoft - Mojang – $2.5 billion (2014)
Before Microsoft bought ZeniMax or announced plans to pick up Activision Blizzard, the company made a gigantic purchase in 2014 for Mojang and the Minecraft series. Microsoft paid $2.5 billion for the studio and the franchise, and has since released new entries in the series, including Minecraft Legends most recently. Since Microsoft bought Mojang, it's continued to release Minecraft games on PlayStation and Nintendo platforms, rather than making them exclusive to Xbox. The company has said it would do the same for Call of Duty if allowed to purchase Activision Blizzard.
8: Sony - Bungie – $3.6 billion (2022)
Microsoft may be in the process of acquiring the Call of Duty series, but Sony's deal to buy another prominent FPS studio, Bungie, is already done and dusted. In 2022, Sony announced it would pay $3.6 billion to acquire Bungie and the Destiny series. Destiny is a beloved juggernaut, but Sony is obviously looking beyond that game as well and hoping Bungie will strike gold again with its future games. Not only that, but Sony has said it's keen to lean on Bungie's experience in the live-service department to help with PlayStation's overall live-service push (Sony plans to have 10 live-service games in the market by 2026).
7: ByteDance - Mononton – $4 billion (2021)
In March 2021, TikTok owner ByteDance announced its games division, Nuverse, would pay $4 billion to buy the Shanghai-based game developer Moonton Technology. This is part of ByteDance's push into the video game business and makes it more of a competitor with another Chinese company, Tencent. Moonton is best known for its MOBA Mobile Legends. It was reported by Reuters that Tencent made an offer for Moonton before ByteDance beat it.
6: Savvy Games Group - Scopely – $4.9 billion (2023)
In April 2023, the Saudi Arabia-owned Savvy Games Group purchased mobile and social game developer Scopely for $4.9 billion. You might not know Scopely by name, but the company has worked on games in juggernaut franchises like Star Trek, The Walking Dead, and Marvel. It's also behind the game Stumble Guys, a colorful battle royale game that is seemingly inspired by Mediatonic's Fall Guys.
Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has been making major investments in the gaming space through Savvy for some time already. In addition to buying Scopely outright, Savvy holds minority ownership positions in Capcom, Nexon, EA, and Take-Two. Savvy also owns 40 million shares of Activision Blizzard and is in line for a huge payday if Microsoft's deal to buy Activision Blizzard goes through. What's more, Saudi Arabia owns more than 8% of Nintendo and is the Mario company's largest outside investor. Savvy Games Group has major plans to continue to expand and create its own game development ecosystem, so watch this space for more.
5: Activision Blizzard - King – $5.9 billion (2015)
In 2015, Activision Blizzard announced it would buy Candy Crush developer King for $5.9 billion to help expand its footprint in the mobile games space. Candy Crush remains a juggernaut on mobile, and those revenues have been flowing to Activision Blizzard for years now. Should Microsoft get approval to purchase Activision Blizzard, the Xbox company will take ownership of Candy Crush and the numerous other mobile games Activision Blizzard is developing. In fact, Activision Blizzard has said it will make a mobile game for every one of its franchises.
4: Microsoft - ZeniMax – $8.1 billion (2020)
Microsoft's second-biggest purchase in the gaming space was the $8.1 billion it paid to acquire ZeniMax in 2020. ZeniMax is the parent company of Bethesda Game Studios, the makers of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, among others. Microsoft acquired all of ZeniMax's teams and series, meaning Starfield, The Elder Scrolls 6, Fallout 5, the next Wolfenstein game, and more will be Microsoft games going forward. The transition wasn't totally smooth, however, as Microsoft recently laid off staff on its games teams, including Bethesda. The deal has also generated some debate and discussion about Microsoft taking formerly multiplatform franchises and making them exclusive to Xbox.
3: Tencent - Supercell – $8.6 billion (2016)
Chinese internet giant Tencent has made a number of investments and acquisitions of studios around the world, and Clash of Clans developer Supercell is its biggest buyout of the bunch. In 2016, Tencent announced plans to acquire a majority stake in Supercell for about $8.6 billion. To put this number into perspective and as an example of the growing size of M&A activity in the video game sector, Tencent paid about $400 million to buy League of Legends developer Riot back in 2011.
2: Take-Two - Zynga – $12.7 billion (2022)
Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K parent company Take-Two Interactive announced in January 2022 that it would purchase FarmVille giant Zynga for $12.7 billion. At the time, it was far and away the biggest acquisition in the history of video games, only to be outdone by Microsoft a few weeks later. In any event, Take-Two paid three times more than Disney did for Star Wars to help get a foothold in the lucrative and growing mobile games market through its acquisition of Zynga.
1: Microsoft - Activision Blizzard – $68.7 billion (pending)
Microsoft announced its intent to purchase Activision Blizzard in February 2022 for the gargantuan sum of $68.7 billion. (For what it's worth, The Wall Street Journal and others have reported that the price is actually $75 billion.) The technology giant has spent the past year taking various steps to convince regulatory bodies to approve the deal, and while Microsoft has indeed made good headway, several key hurdles remain. In the US, the FTC has sued Microsoft to try to block the deal, a move that harkens back to the United States vs. Microsoft lawsuit levied against the company over monopolization concerns in the PC market. In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority raised anti-competitive concerns, too. Microsoft agreed to pay $95 per share to get it done, a significant premium over the share price when the deal was announced. Keep checking back with GameSpot for the latest as this case unfolds in the days and weeks ahead.