Zynga acquires Gram Games for $250m

Mobile giant Zynga has purchased 1010 and Merge Dragons developer Gram Games for $250m (£187m) in cash, with a three-year earn out if the team reaches the profitability goals.

Gram Games’ 77 employees, located in London and Istanbul (where the studio was founded in 2012), will remain at the firm. Gram’s portfolio include nine mobile titles, which collectively have been downloaded over 170m times. “The acquisition of Gram Games grows Zynga’s audience by 3 million mobile daily active users (DAU), and also expands Zynga’s new game pipeline by adding several exciting Gram Games titles in development for 2019 and beyond,” the press release said.

Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau commented: “We’ve been impressed by the unique culture that Gram Games has created, as well as their innovative approach to game making. By acquiring Gram Games, we’re expanding our portfolio of live game franchises, while also adding a number of exciting new starts to our pipeline of future games. In particular, we’re huge fans of Merge Dragons and believe it has the potential to be a new forever franchise for Zynga.”

Talking to GamesIndustry.biz after the announcement, he also said: "I would not categorise Gram as a huge, giant acquisition. $250 million is certainly a lot of money but when we look at the team, our organisation, the competitive multiples and how value it could be in the company…. While it’s an expense for the company, it’s really great from a growth standpoint." In the same in-depth interview, he also clarified Zynga’s position, saying the firm is “not on a buying spree”: “If you look at our company now, we’re starting to get the right amount of momentum reputationally as well as being successful in our games and our business. We’re getting a lot more interest from people wanting to join Zynga in a way that makes a lot of sense. From our standpoint, we’re not in any rush because we don’t need M&A to grow the company. We’re really focusing on our live services and our new games. Merge and the guys at Gram fit right into that strategy perfectly, so we’re focusing on growing the company that way. If something else comes along, great, but we’re not really on a hunt to find the next big M&A deal.”

Gram Games CEO Mehmet Ecevit added in the official announcement: “We are proud to join Zynga and combine Gram Games’ unique culture, talented team and hit games with Zynga’s world-class organization. We believe deeply in Zynga’s mission to connect the world through games and are excited to work with Frank and the rest of the Zynga team on our next phase of growth.”

Kaan Karamanci, Gram’s co-founder, concluded: “Gram Games helped define the hyper-casual genre with games like 1010 and Six, and we continued to grow our footprint with Merge Dragons. We look forward to marrying our unique approach to game making with Zynga’s live services expertise to grow our games and continue to delight millions of players around the world.”

About Marie Dealessandri

Marie Dealessandri is MCV’s former senior staff writer. After testing the waters of the film industry in France and being a radio host and reporter in Canada, she settled for the games industry in London in 2015. She can be found (very) occasionally tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate, Hollow Knight and the Dead Cells soundtrack.

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