Playtika Looks to Expand Outside Social Casino Sector with Wooga Acquisition

Israel-based social casino giant Playtika announces another acquisition as part of growth and diversification strategy

Israeli developer of social casino games Playtika has acquired Wooga Gmbh, a Berlin-based publisher of mobile-friendly story-driven games, in a bid to diversify its business outside of its core market.

No details of the deal were revealed by the involved parties, but according to sources familiar with the terms of the acquisition, Playtika has paid more than $100 million for the German game developer.

Wooga was founded in 2009 by Jens Begemann. The company rose to prominence with casual mobile titles like June’s Journey and Pearl’s Peril that feature hidden objects for players to find or puzzles. It tried to diversify its offering with more hardcore games, but that venture did not prove profitable and eventually resulted in staff layoffs. Currently employing 180 people at its Berlin studio, Wooga says it has regained its strength in the $70-billion casual games market after shaky two years.

Wooga had previously raised around $30 million from the likes of Highland Capital Partners and Balderton Capital. In a statement from earlier today, the game publisher said it finds it the right decision to “now partner with a new owner that will grow with [them],” instead of having VCs investing for a limited time and then looking to sell their shares.

Playtika will keep Wooga’s current staff and Mr. Begemann. It also became known that the Berlin studio’s portfolio of games will remain the same.

Expansion and Diversification through Acquisition

The acquisition of Wooga comes just over a year after Playtika purchased Israeli studio Jelly Button Games Ltd. in what became its first foray outside its main market of social casino games.

Playtika, which is based in Herzliya, Israel, announced earlier this year the establishment of its investment arm Playtika Growth Investments. The company also revealed plans to spend up to $400 million through its investment division to acquire digital businesses that are already profitable or near breakeven and that offer proven products.

Since founded in 2010, Playtika has spent more than $300 million acquiring ten companies, excluding Wooga. The Israeli social casino game developer itself was sold twice to larger businesses. In 2011, Caesars Interactive, subsidiary of gaming and hospitality giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. bought Playtika for $150 million. In 2016, a consortium of companies led by China’s Shanghai Giant Network Technology Co., Ltd. bought the studio for $4.4 billion.

Playtika’s game Slotomania has been a massive hit over the years. According to a report by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, the game generates between $20 million and $22 million every month.

Of their latest purchase, Playtika founder and CEO Robert Antokol said that they see great opportunities for the company in the casual games genre and the addition of Wooga “firmly positions [them] for this next phase of [their] evolution.”

According to analysts, Playtika is the leader in the social casino games market with a 28.6% share. It is also believed that the company is twice the size of its nearest competitor, Australia’s Aristocrat.

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