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BFI: Overseas buyers accounted for 118 UK games M&A deals since 1993

56% of all transactions were games publishers bringing more studios and IP in-house

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A new British Film Institute (BFI) report says that from 1993 to 2022, 118 UK M&A transactions were conducted from international buyers.

USA-based buyers accounted for 49% of the transactions, China made up 15%, and Sweden made up 10%.

The vast majority of overseas companies that purchased UK developers were already working in the games sector, with 56% of these being publishers. The main drivers of the M&A activity were attributed to bringing games development and IPs in-house.

2020 and 2021 were highlighted as the biggest years for M&A deals at $2 billion and $2.7 billion, respectively. UK game firms such as Codemasters, Sumo Group, and Playdemic were among the largest acquisitions.

EA purchased Codemasters for $1.2 billion and Playdemic was purchased for $1.4 billion. Meanwhile, Tencent acquired Sumo Group in a deal worth $1.27 billion at the time.

BFI's report notes that among the possible positives for acquistions, game studios benefit from having access to more capital and the acquirer's marketing and distribution expertise.

However, regarding negative impacts to the M&A, it said, "Possible negative impacts may include the loss of creative autonomy for UK games development studios, which may be harmful for innovation, and the overseas transfer of profits realized by UK games development studios."

The BFI jointly commissioned the report via its National Lottery-funded Research and Statistics Fund and the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre. The center is led by Newcastle University with the Royal Society of Arts and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The video games industry consultancy firm Games Investor Consulting conducted the report's research with economics specialists at Oxford Economics.

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Jeffrey Rousseau avatar
Jeffrey Rousseau: Jeffrey joined in March 2021. Based in Florida, his work focused on the intersectionality of games and media. He enjoys reading, podcasts, staying informed, and learning how people are tackling issues.
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