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Mobile game publisher Playtika files to go public in window for game IPOs

Mobile game publisher Playtika announced today that it has filed to go public in an initial public offering. The Israel-based company filed its confidential S-1 registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ahead of the IPO.

The company hasn’t set its price or timing for its IPO, but the company has been working toward an IPO since last year. There’s a window of opportunity for IPOs as gaming stocks have been riding high during the pandemic, mostly because people are playing more games while sheltering in place. This window won’t necessarily last forever, particularly if bad economic news knocks the markets down again. But plenty of companies are taking advantage of the opportunity.

Robert Antokol started Playtika a decade ago in Israel as a social casino game company. Caesars Interactive Entertainment acquired Playtika, but sold it in 2016 to pay down debt.

A consortium of Chinese game companies acquired Playtika for $4.4 billion. At that time, Playtika had more than 2,800 employees, but additional deals have now expanded the staff to above 4,000 people. To date, Playtika has acquired more than 15 companies, and it has grown so big that it had to rebrand itself so that employees can know what the company stands for.

Above: Playtika’s new brand motto is infinite ways to play.

The rebranding that we wrote about in September focuses on the phrase “infinite ways to play.” At its core, Playtika believes that life needs play and its job is to create infinite ways to play its games that span casual, hardcore, and social casino genres, Playtika CMO Nir Korczak said in an interview with GamesBeat in September.

Playtika is owned by Alpha Frontier, a consortium of investors including Giant chairman Shu Yuzhu. Giant has tried to acquire the company, but without success. Among the company’s acquisitions are Germany’s Wooga, Austria’s Supertreat, and Finland’s Seriously. The company operates 20 different games, and all of them are free-to-play titles that get frequent updates (this is known as live operations). Playtika has more than 35 million players who come back to their games every month — and 12 million who come back daily. The studios are in 19 offices.

Public offerings for game companies have generated $9.2 billion in value in the first nine months of 2020, according to game investment tracking firm InvestGame.

While the stock market took some dives early on, the market started to recover in June, with multiple companies going public in Asia. Archosaur Games raised $280 million, and Kakao Games raised $330 million. Activision Blizzard raised $2 billion in senior debt as a refinancing move. Unity Technologies raised $1.3 billion at a $13.6 billion valuation in mid-September.

Skillz has yet to complete its deal, but the skill-based gaming company is going public through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) at a $3.5 billion valuation. And Roblox has also filed papers for an IPO, possibly early next year at a value of $8 billion.

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