Game investments are on track to double fundings of 2010

Investments in game companies have accelerated once again, according to a study of third quarter game investments and acquisitions by Digi-Capital, a boutique game investment bank in London. If the current trend continues, game startups could raise double this year what they raised in 2010.

“Even though Q3 2011 has just finished, global games investment so far this year is pushing towards double that of 2010, and global games mergers and acquisitions are more than double the level of 2010,” said Tim Merel, managing director at Digi-Capital.

The quarter included blockbuster transactions such as Electronic Arts’ $750 million-plus purchase of PopCap Games. But there have been many smaller deals as well across the social, mobile, online, and cloud gaming markets. There was also significant activity originating in China, Japan and South Korea, as well as other emerging markets.

It is interesting that Zynga is still trying to go public for a valuation of $10 billion to $20 billion. The company filed in June, but a volatile market (and presumably questions from the Securities and Exchange Commission) have kept the company from going public. By comparison, consider Merel’s data on the third-quarter valuations of these market leaders.

Activision Blizzard was worth $13.8 billion on Oct. 4. If you subtract $2.9 billion in debt, then the enterprise value was $10.8 billion. The enterprise value of Electronic Arts was $4.8 billion. GameStop was worth $3.3 billion. Take-Two Interactive was worth $1 billion. Nintendo was worth $7.5 billion. Ubisoft was worth $293 million. Japan’s DeNA was worth $5.7 billion. Gameloft, a major iPhone game maker, was worth $294 million, while Japan’s Gree was worth $6.9 billion.

“While the macro-environment remains challenging, the fundamental growth in online/mobile games continues to drive games investment and M&A forward,” Merel said. “We still believe that now is a great time for the strongest independent online/mobile games companies to either invest for growth, or take advantage of the market to look for strategic exits.”