Dublin’s Keywords Studios buys Hollywood games firm Blindlight for $10m

11 Jun 2018

Traffic on Hollywood Boulevard at dusk. Image: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Irish company Keywords Studios is stealthily building a global gaming empire.

Dublin-headquartered Keywords Studios is continuing on its multimillion-dollar acquisitions spree with the purchase of Hollywood games production company Blindlight for $10m.

In recent weeks, Keywords acquired London’s Fire Without Smoke for £5.2m.

In 2017 alone, Keywords made 11 acquisitions worldwide, including VMC last October for $66.4m to give it leadership in functional testing, and Sperasoft in December for $27m.

Founded in 2001 by Lev Chapelsky and based in Hollywood, California, Blindlight enjoys a leading position in the provision of Hollywood production services for the video games industry.

The company works on behalf of game publishers and developers in procuring specialised talent and managing the entire production processes for the parts of games that benefit from Hollywood production resources.

Under the terms of the deal, Keywords is to pay an initial $3.64m in cash and will issue 64,521 new ordinary shares. Deferred consideration up to $4.8m will be payable to Chapelsky depending on the performance of the business in the first two years of the acquisition.

A global gaming empire run from Dublin

“Keywords and Blindlight have got to know each other well over the past three years, and we see good opportunities to leverage both businesses to offer a wider range of world-leading services to our clients,” said Keywords CEO Andrew Day.

“Following our recent acquisition of music services companies Cord Worldwide and Laced, we see excellent opportunities for Blindlight to bring these services to Los Angeles, as well as providing access to further opportunities for our downstream production services of translation and localised voiceover.”

Keywords Studios was established in Dublin in 1998 by Giorgio Guastalla and Teresa Luppino. It works on video game development for multibillion-dollar gaming giants such as Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Warner Bros, Riot Games, Sony, Supercell, Take-Two, Ubisoft and Nintendo.

The AIM stock exchange-listed company has more than 42 facilities in 20 countries worldwide.

In its most recent financial results, Keywords reported a 57pc rise in group revenue to €151.4m and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) of €26.3m, representing a margin of 17.4pc.

Blindlight achieved EBITDA of an average of $1m per annum over the three-year period to 31 December 2017.

Recent titles worked on by Keywords include Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Mortal Kombat X, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Battlefield 1, Overwatch, World of Warcraft: Legion, Hearthstone, Clash Royale and Mobile Strike, to name a few.

Traffic on Hollywood Boulevard at dusk. Image: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years