Keywords Studios to acquire Canadian game developer

21 Sep 2022

Image: © syahrir/

Keywords continues its acquisition spree by snapping up Smoking Gun, which specialises in real-time strategy games such as Age of Empires: Castle Siege.

Dublin-based gaming giant Keywords Studios has announced yet another acquisition following a prolific period of M&A deals.

The company has now entered into a conditional agreement to acquire Vancouver-based game development studio Smoking Gun.

The agreement follows Keywords Studios’ acquisitions of US games development studio Forgotten Empires and Australian game testing services company Mighty Games over the summer.

Other acquisitions over the past 18 months include London-based digital creative marketing agency Waste Creative and Melbourne-based games development studio Wicked Witch.

Keywords Studios has been in business since 1998 and now operates all over the world.

It provides art creation, marketing services, game development, testing, localisation, audio and player support services to its network of clients. These clients include Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Konami, Microsoft, Netflix, Riot Games, Take-Two, Tencent and Ubisoft.

Founded in 2007, Smoking Gun is a 68-person video game development studio. Its three founders, John Johnson, Drew Dunlop and Angie Pytlewski, are all industry veterans.

Their team specialises in real-time strategy and action genres, and has worked on titles such as Age of Empires: Castle Siege. ​The trio of founders will continue to manage the studio as part of the Keywords group.

According to Bertrand Bodson, CEO of Keywords Studios, Smoking Gun’s expertise in casual and real-time strategy development for mobile games combined with its experience in live operations games support are “valuable extensions” of his business’s client offering. ​

“The acquisition builds on our presence in the Vancouver area, which is a rich source of talent and one of North America’s video gaming hubs,” Bodson added.

The founders of Smoking Gun said they are excited to join the Keywords group, adding that the move would “help accelerate Smoking Gun’s growth and provide opportunities to build, deliver and support more award-winning titles” in the future.

​“We are really looking forward to playing our part in helping to deliver on the strategy of the wider Keywords group by bringing Smoking Gun’s expertise and experience to the group’s client offering,” they added.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.