NZ gaming company Marker Metro sold as part of $28m deal

By Aimee Shaw

Marker Metro chief executive Keith Patton. Photo / Getty Images
Marker Metro chief executive Keith Patton. Photo / Getty Images

Kiwi game developer Marker Metro has announced it has been bought by digital agency The Marketing Group and is now listed on Nasdaq First North stock market in Sweden.

The mobile app and gaming co-development firm was bought as one of four subsidiaries of parent company Ulysses for a total value of €18.5 million ($28.9m).

New Zealand Game Developers Association chairman Stephen Knightly said the deal was an endorsement of the "high-quality intellectual property" produced by Marker Metro.

"Disney has a pick from around the world and the fact that they have decided to work regularly with Marker Metro in New Zealand is a great endorsement to the intellectual property they create," Knightly said.

A game developer being bought out by a foreign company was not a common occurrence in the New Zealand gaming industry, he said.

Marker Metro chief executive Keith Patton, who is also a Microsoft regional director, said the acquisition meant the company would be able to now expand into other countries.

"It will allow us to do business with our other partners and grow our presence in other countries like the US and UK," Patton said.

Marker Metro was founded in 2011 by Patton and director Jon Beattie, it employs 20 full-time staff and has a contractor pool across the UK, United States and Sweden.

Developers typically work to create a game from scratch to later sell on, whereas Grey Lynn-based Marker Metro works on co-developing games for clients.

Some of Metro Marker's big-name clients include Disney, Sony Pictures Television, Zynga, NZTE, Carters Holt Harvey and Plunket.

Marker Metro has also worked on many Disney games and titles including Disney Life and Disney LOL apps.

In New Zealand 24 per cent of game developers work primarily on contract work, with 68 per cent focused solely on creating new products.

Patton said the company's long-term plan was to expand in to Los Angeles and UK.

In 2015 Marker Metro posted an annual turnover of $4.1m.

The Marketing Group executive chairman Jeremy Harbour said the company's acquisition marked a major step forward.

"I am delighted to welcome the new members to the group," he said. "It represents a major step forward in both size and geography, and also to have been able to complete our second major acquisition before our two-month mark is testament to the value of the model."

The Marketing Group recently acquired Rainmakers, another Auckland-based digital agency, bringing its total global network to 10 firms. The acquisitions are part of a strategic portfolio approach of developing its networks in fast-growth markets and across key sectors.

- NZ Herald

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