GTA maker Take-Two says it’s buying Zynga for $12.7B, as pandemic mobile gaming booms

Tuesday, January 11, 2022 by Snacks
GTA: Farm Edition [Moment via Getty Images]

GTA: Farm Edition [Moment via Getty Images]

Grand Theft FarmVille... Instead of rolling in a sleek Zentorno, you're cruising on a goat. Take-Two Interactive agreed to buy mobile-gaming icon Zynga for $12.7B. Zynga makes hit apps like FarmVille, Words With Friends, and CSR Racing. Take-Two is known for computer and console franchises like GTA and NBA 2K — but has started snapping up smartphone games.

  • Take-Two said it would buy Zynga's shares for a 64% premium to their Friday price. Zynga shares soared 41% yesterday. Take-Two investors were less thrilled: The stock slumped 15%.
  • One of the gaming industry's largest acquisitions ever: The Zynga deal, expected to close by June, shows that Take-Two is serious about mobile.

Billions in the palm... Wild stat: Consumers now spend more on mobile games than on console and PC games combined. Zynga makes $$ through its in-game buying biz (tokens, etc.), plus its smaller ad biz (accidentally clicked mid-game). The pandemic supercharged scrolly-tappy gaming: In the first quarter of 2021, users spent a record $1.7B per week in mobile games. Also: Children’s screen time soared during the pandemic, and parents and researchers are worried about kids developing gaming addictions.

  • Zynga shares have plunged since August, when it saw audiences drop as pandemic restrictions eased (instead of WWF, you played IRL Scrabble). But last quarter, Zynga notched record third-quarter bookings and narrowed losses, while ad sales nearly doubled.
  • Mobile is booming: Take-Two said it expected mobile to make up more than half its bookings in the next fiscal year, up 5X.

Mobile can “maxim-eyes”... Maximize users while minimizing costs. We’re spending more time (and money) on our phones. Mobile now accounts for over half of the $180B gaming industry, and is the fastest-growing segment. While social-media games like FarmVille can cost less than $250K to make, GTA 5 cost $265M to develop and market (and took three years to create).

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