Japanese tech and telecoms group SoftBank is paying 150 billion yen ($1.53 billion) for a 51 percent stake in Finnish mobile game maker Supercell, valuing the small maker of hit games "Clash of Clans" and "Hay Day" at $3 billion.
Softbank's bid to claim a leading role in the fast-growing mobile games market makes 3-year-old Supercell, with about 100 employees and just two free-to-play games, more valuable than Zynga, the $2.8 billion company behind former hits such as "FarmVille."
Twenty percent of Softbank's investment will come from its mobile games maker subsidiary, GungHo Online Entertainment, which has a market capitalization of about $8.3 billion.
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Softbank's offer values Supercell, with daily revenue of about $2.4 million mainly through the sale of in-game, virtual items, at about 3.5 times projected annual sales. That is cheaper than several major recent deals such as Electronic Arts' acquisition of PopCap in 2011, which went through at about 10 to 11 times sales the year before.
Market researcher Newzoo estimates global game revenues across all platforms will reach $86.1 billion by 2016 as the number of gamers reaches 1.55 billion. It expects the fastest growth to come from mobile gaming, which will make up almost 30 percent of the total, up from about 17 percent this year.