Dublin’s Keywords Studios buys games firm Sperasoft for $27m

13 Dec 2017

‘Assassin’s Creed: Origins’, a highly acclaimed video game title that Sperasoft worked on. Image: Ubisoft

Keywords Studios is one of Dublin’s best-kept secrets, but now it is on a major expansion buzz.

Dublin video game developer Keywords Studios has acquired Sperasoft, a major eastern European games and production studio with headquarters in California, for a total sum of $27m.

Keywords Studios, headed by Andrew Day, was established in Dublin in 1998 by Giorgio Guastalla and 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.

Listed on the AIM stock exchange in London, the company has more than 42 facilities in 20 countries worldwide.

Recent titles worked on 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.

Game for some global expansion

Founded in 2004 by Igor Efremov, Alexei Kudriashov and Mark Rizzo, Sperasoft has development centres in St Petersburg and Volgograd, Russia, and Kraków in Poland.

It employs 400 software engineers and artists, and recently worked alongside five of Ubisoft’s internal studios to develop Assassin’s Creed: Origins, which launched to critical acclaim on 27 October.

The acquisition by Keywords Studios is for $22m in cash and $4m in shares. The final $1m will be paid on the first-year anniversary of the deal closing.

“The acquisition of Sperasoft provides us with an entry point into co-development, positioning us as a strategic partner to games developers at the early stages of the games development life cycle,” explained Day.

“As games are becoming bigger and are higher-definition, game developers are increasingly relying upon co-development arrangements with companies like Sperasoft to provide them with broader capability to develop both initial games and additional content and features post-launch.

“Sperasoft adds considerably to our engineering services division, which we intend to continue to build organically and through acquisition, as well as significantly enlarging our range of services and geographic footprint,” Day said.

Keywords Studios has been very acquisitive of late, buying up VMC Consulting in October for about $66m and D3T for $3.9m the same month. In August, it acquired Asrec, Dune Sound, Around the World and La Marque Rose for undisclosed sums, and it also acquired Red Hot for $6m in May.

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