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Pay to Win: Activision Buys ‘Candy Crush’ Maker for $5.9 Billion

Buying the company behind Candy Crush Saga gives Activision Blizzard instant credibility on mobile gaming.
Image: King Digital Entertainment

News broke late on Monday that Activision Blizzard, perhaps best known for its Call of Duty and World of Warcraft franchises, had agreed to buy King Digital Entertainment for $5.9 billion. King may not exactly be a household name, but its hit mobile game, Candy Crush Saga, absolutely is, which may help explain why Activision Blizzard will pay an 18 percent premium over King's Monday closing stock price of $14.96 a share.


Put another way, it's nearly $2 billion more than Disney paid for Star Wars creator Lucasfilm in 2012. The deal is expected to close by the spring of 2016, pending regulatory approval.

Activision Blizzard's purchase of King is essentially a $5.9 billion shortcut to mobile gaming, with Activision instantly absorbing King's 474 million monthly active users. Some 81 percent of King's revenue comes from mobile (the rest come from its own website and Facebook), a figure that will help Activision diversity beyond the big budget traditional games like Call of Duty that it's still dependent upon. And even these games aren't performing as they once were: World of Warcraft hit a nine-year low of 5.6 million subscribers earlier this year, and decreased by 100,000 more in the three months ending September 30.

The only remaining question is, will Mr. Toffee be at BlizzCon this weekend?