開發者在答應投資和併購前需要做什麼

作者:Mantin Lu

好幾年來,全球遊戲產業的發展趨勢一直未見停歇,據估算,到2019年其收益將到達1186億美元。而作爲這部分收益最大貢獻者,中國市場更是通過不斷擴展海外市場去賺取更多收益。

macro_money_dollars_rings(from gamasutra)

macro_money_dollars_rings(from gamasutra)

這種擴展將不斷延伸着。單單2016年,中國遊戲公司便創造了多個併購協議:掌趣科技收購了Webzen19.24%的股權,騰訊收購了Supercell 84.3%的股權,Youzu更是100%收購了Bigpoint。其實早在2011,年,甚至是2004年早期,一些中國遊戲公司便開始了併購策略。例如盛大在2010年收購了Eyedentity,騰訊在2011年和2012年分別收購了Riot和Epic。

毫無疑問,中國遊戲市場真的非常強大且充滿吸引力。而就像我之前曾經提過的,單單在手機領域,中國手機遊戲市場便擁有100億美元的收益,即佔據369億美元全球手機遊戲市場份額中的27.1%。隨着遊戲市場的快速改變,特別是手機遊戲市場,我們變得很難去預測下一個颳起風潮的遊戲類型會是什麼以及一款遊戲的熱門度將能維持多久。

就像在手機遊戲領域,對於遊戲開發者來說最“安全”的選擇便是發行多款遊戲並去了解每一款遊戲的表現,如此他們便能爲之後的發展選擇最有前途的一個。爲了測試市場,一些開發者每年至少需要發行10件作品。

此外,一些擁有更高質量的遊戲也伴隨着更高的成本,就像《看門狗》等AAA級遊戲便花費了6800萬美元;根據育碧首席執行官Yves Guillemot的估算,面向Xbox 360和PlayStation 3的遊戲所需要的平均開發預算爲600萬美元。而對於手機遊戲來說,iOS遊戲的平均預算爲18萬美元左右。如果是擁有更復雜圖像的更高質量遊戲的成本則更高。就像《真實賽車2》的成本便爲200萬美元。

爲了能夠進入強大的中國市場併爲長久的開發獲取足夠資本,大多數西方開發者在中國公司接近他們時都選擇接受了合併或投資請求。

還有一種情況是,一些遊戲產業外部的公司也開始收購遊戲公司去擴展自己的領域。例如中國註冊公司中技控股biang收購了Jagex去開拓全新業務。所以在中國,西方遊戲公司的收購計劃變成了一種主流趨勢。

但是我並不能樂觀看待這種趨勢的發展。雖然遊戲公司併購能夠創造某種協同作用,如共享人才,技術和現有的用戶基礎,但是對於非遊戲公司收購遊戲公司來說,這卻是另一種情況。

事實上,公司併購的成功率並不像我們想象中的那麼高,反而具有非常高的風險。根據一些研究以及最近Harvard Business Revies的報告,收購的失敗率大約在70%至90%之間。根據幾個月前發佈在HBR上的另一份研究,超過60%的收購甚至會破壞股東的利益。有許多公司,甚至是一些已經獲得成功的公司都在收購決定中遭遇了失敗,例如在2012年收購了OMGPOP的Zynga。

當然,我非常清楚當一家大公司主動接近你並表示他們想要收購你們公司時你會有怎樣的感受。

你可能會腦子一片混亂並想要儘快達成這一合作,然後開瓶香檳與同事們一起慶祝。但請在這麼做之前先冷靜下來好好進行思考。

就像結婚那樣,你不能只是因爲對方有錢或者有名而能夠造福於你的PR而答應對方的求婚。以下便是你在遇到這種情況時需要考慮的一些情況:

不要匆忙答應任何提議。嘗試着爭取更多時間去做些調查與評估。你需要時間去了解你的投資者。就好像你不可能在認識一個人幾周後便決定嫁個對方。如果這是一次收購,那麼你與投資者間的關係將變得更加複雜。而如果你的潛在投資者非常一意孤行,你可能就需要進行反覆斟酌了。

你應該嘗試着去諮詢那些曾與你的潛在投資者合作過的人。或者你應該嘗試着與那些已經和投資者合作過但卻在合作中遭遇失敗的人進行交談。

就像之前提過的,你不能只是因爲對方有錢或有名氣便答應合作。你應該瞭解你們之間是否存在其它潛在協同作用。你是否能從投資者身上獲得什麼好處?這是否能將你帶進一個全新市場?你是否能夠獲得全新玩家?或者你是否能夠獲得像技術,工具,IP,人才,消費者服務沒,分析或本土化等優勢?

儘可能與潛在投資者進行溝通。詢問對方問題。不要表現得過於強勢從而讓對方能夠真正開懷地面對你。找出潛在投資者對你們感興趣的原因,瞭解對方的戰略意圖。是關於你所發行的遊戲還是你所創造的IP?再或者是關於你的引擎或開發工具,或者你的團隊?瞭解對方的意圖非常重要。如果你的潛在投資者對你們的一項業務感興趣,你最好能夠了解自己的其它業務之後會有怎樣的發展。

明確在併購後你的潛在投資者打算如何與你進行合作?他們是否打算完全控制你的業務?或者你可以繼續保持獨立?他們是否打算整合兩家公司?如果你的潛在投資者對你的團隊感興趣,你可能需要讓團隊成員轉向創造他們的產品而不再是你自己的產品。當然,我認爲你還是應該選擇與那些能讓你繼續主導自己業務的人合作,否則你一定會對此感到厭倦並選擇離開。

瞭解你的潛在投資者會如何處理兩家公司不同的企業文化。他們是否會將你們公司整合到自己強大的企業文化中。或者你的業務將保持獨立而你也將繼續保留原有的文化?我認爲企業文化對於致力於特殊產品的特殊團隊來說非常重要。而強迫改變企業文化是不可能有好結果的。

當一家大公司主動靠近你希望給予你們投資或要求進行併購,你要清楚對方肯定想從你身上獲得一些東西。你並不需要努力去迎合對方。你必須進行足夠的交流,詢問所有重要的問題,並告訴對方任何薄弱點,最終確保這一戰略意圖能夠長期帶給雙方利益。

本文爲遊戲邦/gamerboom.com編譯,拒絕任何不保留版權的轉發,如需轉載請聯繫:遊戲邦

What to Do before You Say Yes to an Investment or M&A Deal

by Mantin Lu

The growing trend of global game industry has been unstoppable for years, and the revenue is estimated to continue towards 2019 to reach 118.6 billion USD (1). China market, as the top revenue generator, is expanding overseas in order to create more value.

The expansion is indeed ongoing. In 2016 alone, multiple M&A deals were made by Chinese game companies: Ourpalm acquired 19.24% of Webzen (2), Tencent acquired 84.3% of Supercell (3), and Youzu, 100% of Bigpoint (4). Actually, as far back as 2011 or even earlier in 2004, some Chinese game companies had started the move of M&A strategy. Some highlighted deals including Shanda acquired Eyedentity in 2010 (5), Tencent acquired Riot and Epic in 2011 and 2012 (6) (7).

Undoubtedly, China game market is powerful and appealing. As I mentioned in my previous article, for mobile segment only, China mobile game market hits 10.0 billion USD, sharing 27.1% of the 36.9 billion USD global mobile game market (1). As the climate of the game market changes rapidly, especially mobile, it is hard to predict what type of titles would be the next big hit, or how long a title would keep standing on top.

Let’s use the situation of mobile game here, a “safer” move for game developers is, to launch multiple titles and then to review the performance metrics of each, so that they will pick the most promising ones for further maintenance. Some developers need at least ten products per year to test the market.

Furthermore, A high quality game comes with high costs: AAA games like Watch Dogs spent 68 million USD; Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot estimated that the average production budget for the generation of games following Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 would be 60 million USD (8). For mobile games, on the other hand, the average cost for an iOS game is around 180,000 USD (9). Mobile games with high quality and complex graphics cost even higher. One of the examples is Real Racing 2, which costs 2 million USD (10).

Source: R-Style Lab 2016

With the appetite of getting into the promising China market, and the needs of abundant capital for continuous development, most of the western developers agree with closing the M&A or investment deals when China companies approach them.

Another fact is that, some companies outside of game industry are also acquiring game companies to expand their territory. Zhongji Holding, a Chinese listed company, acquired Jagex as its new core business (11). The western game company M&A becomes a mania that sweeps many industries in China.

As this trend continues growing, I am not one hundred percent optimistic to that phenomenon. For a game company acquires another game company, it makes sense, since that creates synergy including sharing of talents, technology knowhow and existing user base, etc. However, for non-game companies acquire game companies, that is another story.

Actually the success rate of M&A is not that high but the risk is considerably high. There are numbers behind my statement: a collated research and a recent Harvard Business Review report show that the failure rate for M&A ranges from 70% to 90% (12). In fact, more than 60% of M&A deals actually destroy shareholder value according to another study published on HBR a few months ago (13). A lot of companies, even some considered successful companies, failed in M&A moves including the M&A deal of Zynga over OMGPOP in 2012 (14).

But sure enough, I can imagine how you feel when a big company approaching you and telling you that they want to “marry” you, no, I mean, they want to acquire or invest into your business.

You might feel that your head is in the clouds, you might want to close the deal as soon as possible, and then open a champagne to celebrate with your buddies immediately. But please, calm down and really think twice before you act. Will you marry someone at the first sight? The potential impact to both your business and your personal emotion of choosing an investor is huge.

Like marriage, you can’t just marry a company just because a single reason such as it has money or it has a big name that you think you might benefit in your PR. Here is a list of things that you should keep in mind when that situation comes:

Don’t rush for any deal. Try to buy more time so that you can do due diligence. You need time to know your investor as long as possible. Same as you won’t decide to marry someone after only a few weeks of getting to know each other. Your investor will most likely work very closely with you after the investment. If it’s an M&A deal, the relationship would be even more complicated. If your potential investor is very pushy, red flag.

You should try to talk to people who have worked with that investor. Or even better, try to talk to those people who had worked with that investor and failed in the venture. People could act very nice during good times, but what matters most is how they act when the times are difficult.

Like what mentioned above, you shouldn’t agree to a deal just because of the amount of money involved or just because of the big name of the company approaches you. You should also see if there are other potential synergy between two entities (I know, I know, no one want to mention synergy now). Is there anything you can leverage with the investor’s business? Will that bring you to a new market? Will that bring you new diversified players? How about technology, tools, IP, talent, functions like customer services, QA analytics or localization?

Communicate with your potential investor as much as possible. Ask questions. Show vulnerability so that the other will open up more to you. Find out the reason why the potential investor is interested in your business, find out his or her strategic intent. Is that the game you published? The IP you created? Your game engine or development tools? Your team? The intent is critical. If only a piece of your business was interested by your potential investor, you’d better figure out what would be the future of the rest of the components of your business.

Find out how your potential investor want to cooperate with you after the deal. Would they want to have a full control of your business? Or you can remain independent? Would they want to integrate the two entities? If your potential investor is interested in your talented team, they might want to put your people to work for their product instead of yours. Of course, I think you should work with someone that you can still have say to your business, unless, you are tired with it and want to retire.

Find out how your potential investor want to deal with the cultural difference of two entities. Are they gonna integrate yours into their own spectacular culture that work great for years with their team? Or your business will stay as a separate entity that you can keep your own culture? I believe culture is something very unique to a particular team working on a particular product. Forcing a complete culture change is something that would never work out. Inevitably there would be a blending of the culture of two entities; however, I strongly recommend you to keep your own culture after the deal if possible.

When a big guy approaches you for an investment or M&A deal, there is surely something he wants to take from you. There is no need to sugarcoat it. Just that it’s essential to intensively communicate, ask essential questions, open up and share vulnerabilities to make sure the strategic intent will benefit both parties in the long run.(source:gamasutra