Korean mobile games publisher Netmarble has announced it will acquire Hong Kong-based social casino developer SpinX Games for US$2.19 billion.
SpinX operates wildly popular mobile games for Android, iOS, Amazon platforms, including Cash Frenzy, Lotsa Slots, and Jackpot World.
In a statement Tuesday, Netmarble said SpinX had demonstrated the most accelerated growth amongst the top 10 players in the social casino game industry in recent years, and the acquisition would allow it to diversify its portfolio. Under the terms of the deal, Netmarble will acquire 100 percent of shares of SpinX Games.
Netmarble’s core genre is currently role-playing (RPG) games, including Lineage 2: Revolution, The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross, Blade & Soul Revolution and MARVEL Future Fight.
Established in 2014, SpinX recorded $432 million in sales in 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, it generated $141 million, and $286 million for the first half of the year, representing a 46 percent increase, year on year.
The Social Casino genre shows continued global growth, and we are very excited to execute a share purchase agreement with SpinX Games, one of the leading companies in the genre,” said Seungwon Lee, CEO of Netmarble. “With this diversified portfolio, we expect to fortify our competitive edge in the global mobile gaming market.”
According to Statista, the global social casino games market was worth an estimated $6.2 billion last year and shows no sign of slowing. The global social games market in total is estimated to reach almost $100 billion by 2024.
News of the deal comes as Chinese state media described mobile gaming as “spiritual opium” that was harming the country’s teenagers. This raises the possibility that Beijing could be planning to introduce tougher measures against games publishers. The government has already begun an unprecedented regulatory clampdown against the Chinese tech industry in recent months.
Concern about the addictive nature of mobile gaming that apes gambling games is not restricted to China. In the US, publishers of social casinos and other social games have been accused in numerous lawsuits of offering “illegal gambling” as plaintiffs try to claw back losses.
In Washington state, a federal judge ruled that the virtual play chips used in the Big Fish Games platform could be said to be “something of value” and therefore its games constituted gambling under Washington law.
Big Fish ultimately paid a $155 million settlement to resolve two related class-action lawsuits.
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