Sega to snap up Rovio for $1 billion?

News broke overnight that Japanese gaming giant Sega was closing in a $1 billion takeover deal of Finnish mobile gaming giant Rovio.

It’s no secret that arguably the most famous brand name in mobile gaming, Rovio’s Angry Birds, was looking for a new nest. Indeed just last month it appeared that social casino specialists Playtika was closing in on an $800 million acquisition of the Finnish business. Although this notably seemed to ruffle feathers both inside and outside the company, especially after the Israeli company’s previous Finnish acquisition Seriously – maker of Best Fiends – concluded with a studio closure in the Finnish capital and that deal was subsequently

However, late on Friday, the Wall Street Journal exclusively revealed that a deal was very close to being inked with a completely different suitor and that Sega Sammy Holdings, the parent company of Japanesee gaming behemoth Sega, were rapidly closing in on a $1 billion deal.

Mighty Eagle or Dying Swan?
Whilst some speculators have suggested that Rovio’s feathers have been clipped in recent years as they sought to evolve business models towards the lucrative Freemium approach (actively delisting the original iOS game in order to do so) and notably struggled with new game launches, there’s no disputing that Angry Birds remains a truly iconic brand with a huge fan-base. 

Indeed, since the initial game’s launch on iOS in 2009, the game titles have routinely broken records, generating over 5 billion downloads across a network of 30+ titles. The brand has also created a much wider cultural halo, including partnerships with the likes of NASA, Star Wars and Transformers, two feature films pulling in over $500M at the box-office and countless cartoon series, books and merchandising spin-offs – heck there are even a sprinkling of theme parks around the world.

A Perfect Marriage?
Given Sega’s experience in sustaining and extending a stable of much-loved gaming brands, none less so than their own Sonic The Hedgehog, who has his own cultural halo including a successful movie franchise, this does seem like a very fitting home and one that could provide a bright future for both the Angry Birds brand and Sega’s own ambitions in the mobile space (which let’s not forget represents over 50% of the games industry).

Suffice to say this would be yet more huge news for mobile M&A, coming just days after the announcement of Scopely’s sale to the Savvy Games Group. We’ll be watching this space incredibly closely over the coming days and offering plenty more perspective on the companies and their potential. 

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