Sega, the Japanese-headquartered video game company best known in the West for its Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, is acquiring Angry Birds developer Rovio, the companies announced today. The Finnish headquartered mobile games developer will be acquired for €706 million (around $775 million), which The Wall Street Journal notes represents a roughly a 19 percent premium over its share price at close on Friday. The deal is expected to close by the end of September.
In a press release, Sega said it hopes to use “Rovio’s distinctive know-how in live service mobile game operation, to bring Sega’s current and new titles to the global mobile gaming market.” It sounds like a similar aim to what Sega’s rival Nintendo has been doing with its franchises, with smartphone releases like Mario Kart Tour, Pokémon Go, and Super Mario Run. Sega also wants to help Rovio “expand its platform outside of mobile gaming.”
“The mobile gaming market has especially high potential”
“Among the rapidly growing global gaming market, the mobile gaming market has especially high potential, and it has been Sega’s long-term goal to accelerate its expansion in this field,” said Haruki Satomi, president and group CEO of Sega parent company Sega Sammy holdings. In a statement, Rovio CEO Alexandre Pelletier-Normand specifically called out the company’s Beacon platform, which is designed to help develop games-as-a-service products.
Rovio is best known for its work on the Angry Birds franchise, which launched in 2009 and is claimed to be the first mobile game series to have reached 1 billion downloads. In total, Rovio says its games have been downloaded over 5 billion times. Angry Birds has since been adapted for the big screen twice (once in 2016 and again in 2019), but more recent entries in the franchise have struggled to make a similar impact.
Sega isn’t the first company to have expressed an interest in acquiring Rovio. The mobile game developer had previously been in discussions to be acquired by Israel-based Playtika, but talks officially came to an end in March 2022. Rovio has been a publicly traded company since 2017.
Rovio’s acquisition by Sega is the latest example of an independent mobile gaming titan being hoovered up by a more traditional games giant. Candy Crush developer King was acquired by Activision Blizzard in a $5.9 billion deal that completed in 2016 while Zynga, the company behind FarmVille, was bought by Take-Two for $12.7 billion last year.