Activision-Blizzard has agreed to splash $5.9 billion on King Digital Entertainment, better known as King.com, in order to gain a strong foothold in the casual and mobile gaming markets.
Having only relatively recently earned its freedom from Vivendi Universal, which acquired the company back in 2007
only to part ways in 2013
, Activision-Blizzard's announcement of its deal to buy Dublin-based King.com is a major move for the company: at a 16 per cent share price premium, its offer is $18 per share in cash - valuing the mobile gaming giant at $5.9 billion, of which $3.6 billion comes from Activision-Blizzard's own coffers and a further $2.3 billion in bank loans.
The deal will see King.com run as an independent subsidiary of Activision-Blizzard, under current chief executive Riccardo Zacconi. For Zacconi, it's a validation of his decision to take the company public
back in 2013, ten years after it was founded as a social gaming enterprise.
King.com does not, however, come without controversy attached. In February last year the company was accused of attempting to cancel the trademark
of 2010's CandySwipe due to its similarity to King.com's breakout success Candy Crush Saga - a game which wasn't released until two years later, and which CandySwipe creator Albert Ransom describes as 'nearly identical
' to his own game. A month earlier, another developer levied similar claims
over his Scamperghost title which King.com cloned as Pac-Avoid, while King.com's legal battle against The Banner Saga
for the temerity to include the suffix 'Saga' in its title is well known.
Activision-Blizzard has indicated it expects the acquisition to be completed by early 2016.