You'll recognise Keywords from the news due to the fact it feels like the Dublin-based games giant is buying a new company each and every week.
Well, as luck would have it CEO Andrew Day stopped by and tried to buy PCGamesInsider.biz for $20bn. As we were turning him down his pitiful offer, we took the opportunity to ask the man himself a bit about Keywords acquisition strategy at the moment and what the firm hopes to bring to the global games market.
How has the last year been for Keywords?
The last 12 months have been another great period for Keywords. We have worked on the coolest games in the industry and helped our clients in a multitude of ways to bring their games to audiences around the world. Whether that's with great art and engineering, or with fantastic localisation and audio, we can also support them post-launch via expert customer support, community management, bot hunting and fraud management.
Particularly pleasing this year has been the development of our game development services as we have rapidly expanded our engineering headcount across the US, Canada, Russia, Poland and the UK. We have added music services to help publishers and developers license and compose music for their games and now provide Hollywood-based voice recording, writing and celebrity sourcing services. As if this wasn’t enough, we’ve brought on board game analytics that uses AI and machine learning to predict the behaviour of players on an individual basis, helping to reduce player churn and improve monetisation.
How would best describe your strategy as a business right now?
Our strategy remains exactly the same as it was 10 years ago. We are selectively consolidating the fragmented video game services market to better service the multi-billion dollar game publishers and developers around the world. We have grown strongly, both organically and through acquisition, and plan to continue to do the same for the years ahead.
Why are you so focused on acquisitions?
The acquisitions make the headlines but we are actually most proud of our organic growth. We continue to invest in expanding our facilities across the world. This past year we have trebled our space in Tokyo, doubled in Manila, added 20 per cent to Montreal, opened a new studio in Poland and are about to open our new audio studio in London.
Nevertheless, our acquisitions are an integral part of the business as they provide new capabilities, new geographies and new channels to the all-important talent we need to deliver market-leading services to our clients.
You recently called upon more capital to enable further acquisitions. What are you looking for in acquisitions and investments right now?
As a publicly traded company on the London Stock Exchange, we have wonderfully supportive institutional investors from the US, Europe and the UK and have recently supplemented this source of capital with a credit facility of up to €105m ($120m). Our strong cash generation together with this enhanced funding gives us the firepower for our continued acquisition strategy.
We are focused on building our game engineering and development services, continuing to build our audio services and add in businesses that offer particular expertise, geographic coverage and capacity across all our service lines. Having recently entered the field of marketing services which includes the production of high-end video game trailers that so crucial for the successful launch of games, we are interested in building out these capabilities too.
Right now, it seems like Keywords is trying to make itself something of a 'one stop shop' in the games business, with development studios, licensing businesses and service firms like Babel. Is that a fair assessment?
We do intend to offer services at all stages in the game life-cycle, from concept through production, game launch and onto live operations. As we build out all these capabilities around the globe, clients can (and do) increasingly use us for their lateral service needs.
Indeed, some game companies have decided to stand on our shoulders and use all our services, meaning they are able to scale in a manner that would be almost impossible to do on their own. They effectively get access to 5,000 talented and games passionate Keywordians as and when they need.
What's Keywords' ambition for the coming year?
There’s no rest for us. We will be continuing to build Keywords organically and through acquisition. We have some exciting new projects in hand and a good pipeline of acquisitions. Our ventures arm, Keywords Ventures is actively looking into some investment opportunities in the technology space that we aim to leverage within the games industry. More exciting times ahead for all Keywordians.