Stillfront Acquires Kixeye to Expand Its Portfolio of Games

Stillfront Acquires Kixeye to Expand Its Portfolio of Games

Stillfront acquires Kixeye to expand its portfolio of games

has found new ownership in Swedish developer Stillfront Group. As part of the deal, Stillfront is acquiring Kixeye and its games for $90 million in cash. Depending on its earnings, Stillfront may also end up paying another $30 million to Kixeye’s owners. Both sides expect the deal to close July 1. At that point, all of Kixeye’s current operations would come under Stillfront control.

This acquisition gives Stillfront games like War Commander and Battle Pirates. These are free-to-play massively multiplayer mobile games with strategy elements. In Kixeye games, you typically build a base and get into battles with other players and try to level up your units and defenses. It’s a popular genre — and one that Stillfront is also active in with games like Call of War.

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“Kixeye fits perfectly into Stillfront’s growth strategy by broadening our portfolio of studios and games with characteristics that drive long term gamer relations,” Stillfront chief executive Jörgen Larsson said in a statement. “Kixeye’s games portfolio of four strong IPs and a well-known brand is a very good contribution to our existing game portfolio and increases the potential for synergies within the Group.”

Kixeye’s studios also join Stillfront

This deal also gives Stillfront control of Kixeye’s development teams. And Stillfront expects that the key leadership and employees will make the transition and continue working on their projects.

“Kixeye is a pioneer in free-to-play gaming and has a very strong track record in developing blockbuster IPs,” said Larsson. “It is with pleasure I today welcome Clayton Stark and the whole team to Stillfront.”

Clayton Stark is the head of studios at Kixeye, and he’s going to keep that role under the new management.

“We are very excited about the merger with Stillfront,” Stark said. “Combining portfolios and leveraging our knowledge in live-ops execution and innovative monetization will be a great formula for success. We are very much looking forward to becoming part of the Stillfront family.”

Sensor Tower: PUBG Mobile is the king of battle royale on smartphones


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Above: The Royale Pass in PUBG Mobile.

Image Credit: Sensor Tower


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PUBG Mobile is now the revenue leader among battle royale games on mobile, market research firm Sensor Tower said today. Much of its surge has come since February, and China plays a significant role in it.

Publisher Tencent Games released PUBG Mobile in China two months ago, rebranding it as Game for Peace. And in July, player spending reached $167 million for the past 12 months, which is a 748% increase year-over-year. This makes the PUBG the No. 1 game in terms of revenue for three months in a row, according to Sensor Tower’s findings (which don’t include Fortnite on Android since it’s not in Google Play and excludes the myriad Android stores in China).

PUBG Mobile is free-to-play but makes money off in-app transactions like progression passes.

“China is the major driver of this growth — it has contributed almost 30% of the game’s all-time total in just two months,” Sensor Tower cofounder Alex Malafeev said over email. “That said, even with China out of the picture, the game has still grown its revenue nearly 310% year-over-year as of last month, or more than [four times].”

Game of Peace (aka PUBG Mobile) has brought in about $241 million over the past 60 days, or about 28% of the estimated $860 it has grossed to date worldwide. It’s total revenue has put it ahead of Epic Games’ Fortnite and Knives Out from NetEase.

The title’s total revenue since launch now places it ahead of Fortnite and Knives Out, which have grossed $725 million and $771 million, respectively, compared to PUBG Mobile’s $860 million. Fortnite’s revenue is inclusive of iOS only, as the title is not available through Google Play.

Meanwhile, back Stateside

But it’s not all about growth from China. The U.S. is also throwing money at PUBG Mobile, where Sensor Tower says revenue has grown 565% year-over-year, to $32 million last month. PUBG Mobile/Game for Peace’s revenue last month was almost five times greater than its two closest battle royale competitors: Fortnite and Knives Out.

“Outside of China, the game has been experiencing growing popularity in the U.S. and South East Asia. Tencent has also done an excellent job of keeping the title fresh with new content at a steady pace, while its season passes have been delivering on a consistent basis,” Malafeev said. “Also, if you really look back, the current state of the game is so much more refined and enjoyable than it was at launch.”

Additionally, PUBG Mobile has a new Lite version out in certain regions. It’s less taxing on the hardware and networks thanks to a smaller download size and lower RAM requirements, which means battle royale fans with older smartphones can play it.

Which could boost PUBG Mobile’s earnings even more next month.

3D Realms on finding ‘undiscovered’ talent and publishing indie games

VB STAFFAUGUST 05, 2019 08:52 AM



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This article is made possible by Intel’s GameDev BOOST program — dedicated to helping indie game developers everywhere achieve their dreams.

3D Realms (née Apogee Software) helped usher in a new era of gaming in the ‘80s and ‘90s when it popularized the shareware model of distribution and produced hits like Duke Nukem and Shadow Warrior. While the legendary studio isn’t as big or popular as it once was, it’s managed to stay afloat in a volatile industry — and now, it’s ready to make its comeback.

According to founder Scott Miller, the 3D Realms of 2019 isn’t all that different from its heyday. The team is small, consisting of three owners and a pool of contractors located all around the world. They’re trying to get back to creating new franchises and working with indie developers to publish their games.

“We want to get back into indie publishing, sort of what like Devolver’s doing,” Miller said. “3D Realms actually used to work with [Devolver founders] Mike Wilson and Harry Miller, back when they put together the Gathering of Developers in the late ‘90s. … But to kickstart our company and get us back on the map, we’re doing these retro games, kind of going back to what we were known for in the ‘90s.”

One of those games is Voidpoint’s Ion Fury, a first-person shooter for PC that’s launching out of Steam Early Access on August 15. Ion Fury is built on Ken Silverman’s original 2.5D Build engine, the same game engine that 3D Realms used for Duke Nukem 3D and other titles.

But the company’s retro portfolio doesn’t stop there. It’s also working with KillPixel on Wrath: Aeon of Ruin, a fast-paced, ‘90s-style FPS built on top of another piece of old yet classic tech — Id Software’s original Quake engine. In both Wrath and Ion Fury, 3D Realms reached out to the developers directly and offered to help them expand their teams.

The studio has other games and partnerships in the works, but it’s focusing on just those two shooters for now.

“There seems to be a market for these sorts of throwback shooters that take us back to a simpler time. We’re making some headway with that,” said Miller. “We have other projects we haven’t announced yet that are using newer engines. We’re going from the ‘90s to the current era, slowly but surely, with our game designs and so on. We can’t compete with the triple-A studios nowadays, so like Devolver, we’re finding a market for games that the triple-A studios really aren’t focused on.”

Above: Ion Fury

Returning to its roots

With its growing roster of indie developers, 3D Realms is channeling the early days of its history, like when it helped Id (by funding its first game Commander Keen) and Remedy Entertainment (with Death Rally and Max Payne) get off the ground. Both companies are still thriving to this day and working on highly anticipated games like Doom Eternal and Control. Miller hopes that their new partners will see similar success.

“That’s what we like to do. We like to find those undiscovered nuggets out there and help them build into their own successful companies,” he said. “We think we have a good eye for finding these talents out there that have yet to be discovered. We have the connections and the experience and all this stuff that we can use to help them, almost in a ‘Shark Tank’ way.”

While it’s easier than ever for people to make and release their own games (thanks to cheap or free game engines and easy-to-use digital storefronts), Miller thinks publishers can still be a valuable resource. Aside from providing funding, 3D Realms offers marketing support and can help creators release their games on consoles, which can be trickier than self-publishing on PC.

Before 3D Realms got involved with Wrath, for example, it was only being made by one guy: Jeremiah “KillPixel” Fox, who was using his own money to fund development. While a known modder in the Quake community, Fox had never made a full game before. The support from 3D Realms allowed him to build a team and focus on it full-time — to, as Miller said, “have it be the project he really envisioned from the start.”

Above: Wrath: Aeon of Ruin

3D Realms doesn’t plan on supporting just retro shooters, however. It’s looking for unique game ideas in all sorts of genres.

“Some of our other projects are coming up with new gameplay ideas that will make them stand out from the crowd. That’s what you’re going to see from us in the future, just really unusual gameplay ideas that maybe you haven’t seen before. Kind of like what bullet time was for Max Payne,” said Miller.

But the company wants all of its published games to share a common theme of having strong, original characters that live in intriguing universes. The thinking is if they’re successful, the developers can turn them into big franchises and explore additional stories with sequels and spin-offs.

“We like to have games where we create a central character, like Duke Nukem or Max Payne or Prey. … With the Ion [Fury] franchise we have a character named Shelly Harrison. Her military codename is Bombshell. That’s a character we’re developing,” said Miller. “We have a character in Wrath that we’re also developing, the Outlander.

“We like to develop backstories and think in terms of creating what I call a ‘storyverse,’ where we create this interesting world that these characters live in that can have many stories told within these worlds. We’re not just making a game. We’re making this storyverse, a story universe.”