Irish video game firm to buy London agency for £5.2m

Keywords Studios swoops for Fire Without Smoke, the latest in a string of acquisitions

Irish video gaming firm Keywords Studios has acquired creative games agency Fire Without Smoke in a deal worth up to £5.2 million (€6 million).

Fire Without Smoke, whose headquarters is in London, provides creative and marketing services to game publishers and developers, including creating game trailers, marketing art and materials for esports events and providing marketing consultancy and design services to the industry. The company, which was founded in 2013 by Will O'Connor and Michael David Thomson, also has a studio in Montreal. It employs 40 staff between the two locations.

The company has worked with top game publishers such as Sony, Square Enix, Riot Games, Deep Silver, Sega, Capcom and Ubisoft. The company is expecting its year ending May 31st, 2018, to yield revenues of £2.8 million and adjusted profits before tax of £700,000.

Keywords will pay £3.85 million in cash, with £500,000 deferred until the sale’s first anniversary, providing certain performance targets are met. Shares will make up the rest of the purchase price.


"Fire Without Smoke's specialised offering represents an excellent addition to the group's existing capabilities and adds some exciting new services to our global service platform," said Keywords Studios chief executive Andrew Day. "Their high-end video-game trailers expertise will be of great interest to Keywords' large client base, as will their broad suite of creative services, which range from marketing strategy to providing marketing content for events including esports tournaments, which can play a significant role in influencing the success of event and game launches."

Once the deal is completed, Mr O’Connor will remain managing director, and the rest of the team is also expected to stay on at the company.

27 acquisitions

Keywords, established in Dublin in 1998, employs almost 5,000 people, and provides localisation services to companies such as Tencent, Electronic Arts, Oculus, Supercell, Activision, Sega, Nintendo and Ubisoft.

This is the latest buy for the Irish-based company, which has made 27 acquisitions over the past three years, including 11 in 2017.

In April it said it had acquired Cord Worldwide and Laced Music for a total consideration of £4.5 million (€5.2 million) from the Cutting Edge Group, and bought Brazil-based audio studio Maximal Studio for €300,000.

Last December it acquired Sperasoft, which provides game development, art creation and software engineering services to video-game developers and publishers, in a $27 million (€23 million) deal. Two months prior, it bought d3t, with XLOC and Game Sim picked up in May 2017.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist