Keywords Studios acquires The Multiplayer Group from Improbable Worlds for $97.1M

Keywords Studios, a global provider game and entertainment services, has acquired The Multiplayer Group, a division of Improbable, for $97.1 million.

MPG is a multiplayer game development studio based in Nottingham, United Kingdom. The acquisition, marks a strategic move by Keywords to bolster its Create division.

MPG, previously owned by Improbable Worlds Limited since 2019, is has expertise in developing multiplayer games and providing technology solutions to top-tier gaming studios and publishers like Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Epic, and 2K. The acquisition aligns with Keywords’ expansion strategy, adding a strong player in the multiplayer gaming sphere to its portfolio.

MPG has grown significantly since its establishment in 2018, now boasting a workforce of over 360 globally distributed staff. The leadership team, including Andy Norman, Rocco Loscalzo, Vaughan O’Brien, and Roger Cheung, will continue to spearhead MPG’s operations post-acquisition. They are set to engage in a management incentive plan, linked to ambitious growth objectives over the next two years.

The acquisition, funded primarily through cash and Keywords’ existing revolving credit facility, is projected to contribute double-digit revenue growth in 2024. The transaction aligns with Keywords’ targeted valuation range of five to seven times EBITDA and is expected to be earnings per share (EPS) accretive in its first full year post-acquisition.

Bertrand Bodson, CEO of Keywords Studios, said in a statement, “We are thrilled to welcome the MPG team to Keywords. MPG is a business that we have long admired for its high-quality work, blue-chip client base, deep experience in developing AAA multiplayer games and its use of technology and data analytics. This is another important step in building out our platform and expanding our offering to encompass specialised multiplayer game development at scale, which is increasingly in demand for live services. We believe that MPG complements our existing high-quality UK and global Create studios and are excited to bring them into the Group. We look forward to working with Andy and the wider talented MPG team over the coming years to continue to drive growth in the business.”

Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable, said in a statement, “We are delighted to see MPG embark on its next chapter with Keywords, who we’ve always seen as a like-minded business partner. Nurturing and fostering ventures is at the heart of our philosophy and allows us to realize lasting value, and we are confident that MPG will continue to grow within the Keywords’ environment.”

I asked Narula for comment. He said it doesn’t mean that Improbable is out of the game business. Rather, it means the company isn’t focused on game services such as those offered by Multiplayer anymore. The company has said it is “committed to continuing to innovate and shape the future of this exciting space, growing services for the metaverse and delivering on our Venture dealbook.”

While Improbable sees exciting developments for the metaverse, its Web3 and Generative AI components, it also envisages 2024 to be another year of challenging economic climate that will require the start-up ecosystem to work hand in hand and enhance partnerships and cooperation, sharing knowledge and experience.

Improbable will focus on increasing in the range of 10 times the number of its public experimental metaverse events with the objective of finding repeatable formats that captivate audiences, generate revenue, and pave the way for a full year of activity building innovative and independent metaverse ventures.

Andy Norman, CEO of MPG, echoed the sentiments of collaboration and growth, emphasizing the shared ethos between MPG and Keywords.

“MPG has found success in the multiplayer space through passion, expertise, and customer driven collaboration,” Norman said in a statement. “We have seen strong growth over the past few years, working on some of the most complex and successful games in the market, supported by our dedication to a sustainable, people-first culture. With Keywords, we believe we can continue to lead and grow multiplayer innovation, bringing the MPG ethos to more customers and games. We look forward to working closely with Keywords and driving growth both in MPG and across the enlarged Keywords’ group.”

The Multiplayer Group has worked on games including Mortal Kombat 1, Starfield, Call of Duty MWII and MW III, Fall Guys, Apex Legends, Firewall Ultra, Overwatch 2, The Elder Scrolls, Grounded, Sea of Thieves,
Medal of Honor, Gotham Knights, Dying Light 2, Redfall and Lego 2K Drive.

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