The deal follows a pattern where Scopely partners with an external game studio, launches a game, and then acquires the studio if the game is particularly successful. That’s what happened in 2019 when Scopely bought Digit Game Studios, maker of its successful Star Trek: Fleet Command mobile game. The price of the PierPlay deal was not disclosed.
The deal also shows that Scopely is on an acquisition binge. Los Angeles-based Scopley built a war chest with $400 million raised in the past six months. The company also acquired FoxNext Games, the maker of Marvel Strike Force, and that helped the company become a top-five U.S. mobile games publisher, according to insight and analytics firm App Annie.
PierPlay has been Scopely’s partner since 2016, collaborating on the word game Scrabble Go. The game, launched last month, quickly became the biggest word game launch ever as the No. 1 most-downloaded word game in the world. More than 2.5 million people are playing daily, with the average session lasting over 100 minutes per day.
Scopely said the game’s success further highlights Scopely’s ability to enter new game genres, further expanding the company’s portfolio.
“Acquiring developers that we work with is a big part of our studio ecosystem strategy,” said Tim O’Brien, chief revenue officer at Scopely, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We met them in 2016 as they were rolling out of Playtika and their Bingo Blitz game. We knew we could get the Scrabble license and they thought it would be amazing to work on. We thought it was a good fit and funded them from day one.”
O’Brien said Scopely has been very pleased with the game, which stayed in testing for a very long time for a mobile game. It took about 2.5 years to complete the title.
Some Scrabble fans, particularly those who played the prior Electronic Arts game, have voiced their displeasure with the new game. But O’Brien said the retention numbers for the game are the highest Scopely has ever seen and the game has a high 4.5 out of 5-stars rating. And he said that the company will be adding updates that will address the loudest concerns of the core fans.
“They will be able to get a very core Scrabble experience,” he said.
PierPlay cofounder and CEO Lorenzo Nuvoletta will continue to manage the game studio, which will combine forces with other game makers in the Scopely ecosystem to take on even more projects together. Prior to PierPlay, Nuvoletta held positions across the games industry at many companies including Playtika and King.
Nuvoletta said in a statement the partnership with Scopely has been collaborative and rewarding. He said the success of Scrabble Go has been amazing and he looks forward to tackling more exciting projects in the development slate.
PierPlay was founded in 2016 by a group of game makers who created Playtika’s Bingo Blitz (formerly Buffalo Studios). The group decided to take on a new, social PvP adventure — first partnering with Scopely on the Scrabble intellectual property. The PierPlay team will continue to build Scopely’s casual slate, now focused on an unannounced product. A Barcelona-based Scopely Studio will continue to deliver new experiences for Scrabble Go.
In Scopely’s studio ecosystem, game teams can include internal Scopely Studios, such as Digit, FoxNext Games, and now PierPlay, and/or external partner studios, which currently span seven countries. Yahtzee With Buddies has surpassed $500 million in lifetime revenue. Scopely now has more than 800 full-time employees.
Scopely has seen big growth over the past year, thanks in part to the success of Star Trek: Fleet Command, which is generating $100 million a year. PierPlay has 25 employees and it is expanding.