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EQT Ventures sells its stake in mobile games company Small Giant Games to Zynga

Zoltan Tundik

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

The EQT Ventures fund (“EQT Ventures”) today announces that it entered an agreement to sell its ownership stake in the Finnish mobile gaming studio, Small Giant Games (“the Company”) to Zynga Inc. (Nasdaq: ZNGA), a leading social game developer, headquartered in San Francisco, California. The implied valuation of the Small Giant Games transaction is at USD 700 million. EQT Ventures led a USD 5.7 million Series A round in March 2017 and then led an additional USD 41 million investment in January 2018.

Founded in 2013, Small Giant Games’ team of 47 employees developed the hit franchise Empires & Puzzles. The game blends approachable Match-3 battles with deeper gameplay elements including Hero Collection, Base Building and Social Alliances. Just ten months after Empires & Puzzles’ launch in March 2017, the game had developed a strong new brand and loyal following, and Small Giant Games reported USD 33 million in revenues. In the first four months of 2018, the company had already exceeded 2017’s revenue. In addition, Empires & Puzzles has frequently made it into the the Top 10 Grossing Games on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store and has now been downloaded more than 26 million times.

In March 2017, EQT Ventures led Small Giant Games’ USD 5.7 million Series A round and has remained the largest individual owner in the Company since. Following the successful launch of Empires & Puzzles, EQT Ventures was dedicated to supporting the Company’s continued growth journey and, at the end of January 2018, the fund led an additional USD 41 million investment. During the investment period, EQT Ventures – with its team’s mobile gaming experience – supported the Company as it sought to scale Empires & Puzzles.

Timo Soininen, CEO at Small Giant Games, commented: “Our studio has always believed that small, focused and talented teams with a big vision can achieve huge things. EQT Ventures has supported us from the start – not just with capital, but also strategic advice and guidance. The EQT Ventures team’s extensive mobile gaming experience and entrepreneurial mindset has proved invaluable when scaling Empires & Puzzles and we’ve enjoyed working closely with Lars and the rest of the team. I’m confident that partnering with Zynga is now the right next step in our evolution.”

Lars Jörnow, Partner at EQT Partners and Investment Advisor to EQT Ventures, concluded: “Huge congratulations to Timo, Markus, Otto and the rest of the Small Giant team – this is a well-deserved milestone for everyone at the company. The Small Giant team checked all the boxes for EQT Ventures: small, passionate, agile, data-driven and determined to build a global hit game. The EQT Ventures team would like to thank Small Giant Games for letting us be part of their journey – it has been a true partnership and we look forward to the next phase!”

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Swintt celebrates launching games with Rootz

George Miller

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Swintt celebrates launching games with Rootz
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Swintt, the rapidly rising game provider with a focus on localised content for key markets, is celebrating the launch of their games with Malta-based operator Rootz.

The launch of Swintt’s series of land-based content popular across European markets including Germany includes the top games Master of Books, Seventy Seven and Fresh Fruit. Other land-based games scheduled for release include Heart of Earth, Perseus and Fruit Fever.

The agreement also covers Swintt’s proprietary portfolio of games to be launched soon, with top titles Immortal Monkey King, Panda Warrior and Royal Golden Dragon among the most popular.

Rootz Limited is known for delivering its flagship brand Wildz, an online casino that delivers a wide range of games built upon a robust platform optimised for a quality player experience through the Levelz and Spin Back functionalities.

Rootz also launched Caxino in June 2020, their second online casino brand using the powerful Rootz platform and utilizing the same retention and bonusing mechanics to reward loyal players.

Commenting on the agreement, David Flynn, CEO for Swintt said “I’m very happy to see the hard work of the Swintt team, reflected in this partnership. The team at Rootz are an entrepreneurial and high paced team with a focus on local markets. This matches our philosophy at Swintt and I’m looking forward to our launch in the near future.”

Lasse Rantala, CEO at Rootz when asked about the deal stated, “We are extremely excited to be an early partner in the Swintt journey to make the most of their approach to delivering high-quality, localised content. With both Swintt and Rootz being young companies with many shared values, we can grow together through close collaboration and form a formidable partnership. The range of games will perfectly suit our players at Wildz.com and Caxino.com.”

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We must be guided by the education sector to deliver effective prevention programmes to young people

George Miller

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We must be guided by the education sector to deliver effective prevention programmes to young people
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

YGAM Chief Executive Lee Willows reflects on some of the key topics to emerge from three reports published last week and highlights the valuable contribution the charity is making.

Last week was a significant week for everyone connected the gambling industry. Reading the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) annual progress report; The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report and the Lords Select Committee report, it was pleasing to read these reports all featured insight from people with direct experience of the tragic harm that gambling can cause some individuals, such as the YGAM Founders. As Chief Executive of the YGAM charity and personally as someone who lost everything to a gambling addiction, I was grateful for the opportunity to contribute my insight and experiences. Such inclusion would have been unheard of five-years ago. Having three incredibly helpful reports published in quick succession over a period of five days is in many ways helpful and timely as YGAM continues to evolve our strategy. I congratulate everyone involved in producing three fascinating reports that will inform the debate moving forward.

At YGAM, we strongly believe that prevention, including education is an essential component to reduce gambling-related harms. We engage with the education sector daily and we are constantly listening to the needs of teachers, practitioners and young people. It is very clear from these conversations that teachers and practitioners need and appreciate our resources more than ever. The feedback we get from teachers, practitioners and young people and the insight from external evaluations is overwhelmingly positive and there is an enormous demand for information on gambling and gaming. Whilst it was pleasing to see education feature in all three reports, the voices of the professionals working in that sector should also be taken into consideration. We must continue to be guided by professionals working in the education sector to deliver effective prevention programmes to young people.

The focus on the blurred lines between gaming and gambling is welcomed. The YGAM workshops help build digital resilience and educate people on the different types of games accessible to children. We agree with the DCMS Select Committee and the Children’s Commissioner that loot boxes that contain the element of chance should not be sold to children under 18. The concern about allowing children to access loot boxes is that it is conditioning them to gambling behaviour from an early age. Building on our discussions with DCMS we look forward to contributing to the government’s call to action on loot boxes which will hopefully lead to consideration of an appropriate regulatory intervention.

The debate around gambling advertising and the impact it has on younger generations is imperative. You do not have to work in this sector to notice that gambling adverts dominate the promotional spaces at most sporting events. The YGAM resources tackle this topic head on as we continue to raise awareness of the potential harms and the support available. We believe concerns about marketing and sponsorship should be addressed by evidence-based analysis that puts the safety of young people first and we look forward to contributing to this debate.

When the Gambling Commission launched the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling-Related Harms, there was real hope for change and there has been some positive change; yes more can be done and some actions need to move in a more expedient manner, but change does take time. I also worry that in the desire to affect structural change, or radically change strategic direction part way through a national strategy may result in valuable insight being lost. I do see many people and organisations coming together to deliver the strategy which is superb and that is where we will continue to have a relentless focus.

Certainly in my time in YGAM I have seen Safer Gambling teams within operators increase from one employee, who led Safer Gambling work on a part-time bases, to now large Safer Gambling teams with twenty plus employees working full-time in this area of work. In that time, I have also seen and been fortunate to work alongside others who have been affected by gambling-harms set up their own organisations and I have witnessed the rise of passionate campaigners who demand change, often following tragic circumstances. At the heart of all this work is a shared commitment to reduce-harms and it would be so oxygenating if more time can be spent finding common goals and delivering the national strategy.

As a prevention charity we will continue to focus on the delivery of education, building and sharing insight and demonstrating impact. This is a crucial period for the future of this sector and everyone at YGAM looks forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholder groups to ensure all young and vulnerable people are safe from gaming and gambling related harms.

Finally, YGAM has published its strategic plan 2019 – 2021 and within our annual review filed with the Charity Commission and Companies House we share progress against our strategic goals and insight. However next week, we will have a dedicated page on our website which will also show this progress, insight, and our impact in a succinct manner. I am incredibly proud of the YGAM team and many colleagues from all parts of the sector (inc charities, trade bodies, operators, regulators, ABSG, DCMS, teachers, young people, EbEs); working hard to make a difference in this space.

Lee Willows
Chief Executive, YGAM

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Industry News

Kalamba Launches New “Bullseye” Brand

Niji Narayan

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Kalamba Launches New “Bullseye” Brand
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Kalamba Games has launched its new brand named “Bullseye.” The new brand incorporates Kalamba’s proprietary remote gaming server (RGS) and promotional tools product offerings.

The Bullseye launch cements the Malta-based firm’s position as a next-generation supplier as it continues to invest in creating a strong brand and further expanding the company.

The new brand incorporates a range of Kalamba’s new promotional tools, which will initially be made available to partners that are directly integrated via the Bullseye RGS. The roll out is set to begin in H2 2020 and gives direct access to over 35 unique Kalamba titles.

“We’re very excited to bring the Bullseye brand to market as it reflects the team’s hard work in bringing the company further towards maturity and underlines our commitment to supporting our partners’ success,” Steve Cutler, CEO and co-founder of Kalamba, said.

“Bullseye represents the next stage in the core strategy and vision we established back in 2016. Naturally we look forward to building further on our games portfolio, but making titles interconnected via meta features and layers will ensure we build a market leading slots experience for the ages,” Steve Cutler added.

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